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BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Out of Our MiNDS: Frequently Asked Questions!

AUTHOR: John Krzeczkowski

Who’s ready to pack up slides of neurons, prepare the mechanical claw, throw some sheep brains on ice, and head out to our local high schools to teach some neuroscience?! Once again, I am looking forward to another year of Out of Our MiNDS! For those of you who don’t know, Out of Our MiNDS is our Neuroscience Graduate Program’s outreach initiative. We travel to local high schools to teach grade 11 and 12 biology students about the exciting and dynamic field of neuroscience and we are always looking for volunteers to help us run the program! Out of Our MiNDS is a great opportunity to share your passion for neuroscience while learning important knowledge translation skills. If you are wondering what the Out of Our MiNDS program entails, you’ve come to the right place! Let me take you through some quick FAQs about Out of Our MiNDS!

Q. How is Out of Our MiNDS delivered in the classrooms?  

A. We run 3 stations each designed to teach a fundamental aspect of neuroscience. Students are split into groups of 3, then rotate through each station. First, I’ll discuss the brain function station. This station uses sheep brains to teach students the different lobes of the brain, and how different parts of the brain have different functions. Next, we have the microanatomy station. Here, we show students slides of neurons and discuss the functional aspects of the different parts of neurons. Finally, we have… The claw! In this station, students use the muscles in their forearms to move a mechanical claw. This allows us to teach students about how neurons send signals!   

Q. How much preparation must I do beforehand to run these stations!?  

A. Very little. If it’s your first time volunteering, we will pair you with someone who has run the station before.   

Q. How much of a time commitment is Out of Our MiNDS? 

A. We generally visit schools on Fridays. The total time (that is, meeting at Mac, travelling to the school, delivering the program, and coming back to Mac) usually takes about 4 hours. We generally ask volunteers to give a morning or an afternoon of their time.   

Q. How often do we run these programs? 

A. Once or twice per month.  

Q. If I want to volunteer, do I have to come to every one of them?

A. No. We understand that everyone has busy schedules with lots of great research and TA work going on, so come to as many as you’d like!   

Q. All the stations sound interesting, but I am particularly interested in one of them. Can we pick which stations we run? 

A. Yes, of course! As long as there is at least one person to run each station, you can certainly choose.   

Q. Do we only deliver the program to high school students? 

A. We are always looking for opportunities to expand. In the past, we have lead workshops for Personal Support Workers and senior citizens at a retirement home. 

I hope this answers your Out of Our MiNDS questions! Please keep an eye on your inbox for Out of Our MiNDS emails, or contact us at if you’d like to volunteer with us. We hope to see you at the next event!