New York University's (NYU) Center for Neural Science, the Department of Teaching and Learning and the
Center for Research on Higher Education Outcomes will partner with New York City underserved public high
schools to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate an innovative EEG-based cognitive neuroscience
curriculum. In BrainWaves, high school students (10th and 11th grades) will become brain scientists in an
original study of their own creation: They will be provided with the content knowledge and practices to design
and conduct a comprehensive neuroscience research study in their own classroom with the use of portable low
cost brainwave measuring devices (electroencephalography (EEG) headsets). The proposed curriculum has
two units. The first unit, which will be informed by previous SEPA-funded programs, consists of a broad
introduction to both cognitive neuroscience content and experimental design. Students will be trained to use
EEG headsets and will learn about the process of designing a neuroscience study as well as research ethics
issues. The second unit of the curriculum will differ across the intervention group and the control group.
Students in the intervention group will first work in small teams to propose an original research question and
formulate a detailed plan to execute an EEG study. They will then evaluate the different proposals and select
one that will be carried out in the classroom. Next, students will design the experiment, collect data and
analyze it, and lastly share their results with their community (e.g., through a science fair). In the process,
students will be mentored by their science teacher as well as a neuroscientist affiliated with NYU. The control
group will involve journal club style discussions of EEG research papers. The curriculum will be accompanied
by an open-science, open-source software package (OpenEXP) that will guide students through the process of
designing their experiments, as well as collecting and analyzing data. Finally, we will develop a professional
development course for teachers and science mentors with an explicit emphasis on mentoring students in
The main educational research questions posed in this proposal can be formulated as follows:
1) Does a technology supported, inquiry-based neuroscience curriculum (BrainWaves) impact student
understandings of neuroscience content and experimental design and their attitudes toward science?
2) How does engagement with the BrainWaves curriculum and program resources affect teachers'
attitudes towards neuroscience teaching?
The program evaluation will take place over three years in 10 schools every year. Schools will be randomly
assigned to the intervention or control group every semester. The Impact of BrainWaves on students will be
assessed using pre- and post-program surveys. The effectiveness of teachers' professional development and
instructional implementation will be evaluated with classroom observations and teacher surveys.