Cholla High students playing mind games - Tucson News Now

Cholla High students playing mind games

By Barbara Grijalva - email

Some high school students might think there's no way learning about science can possibly be fun.

Well, it's a safe bet they haven't been involved in the Young Scientist Program.

We sat in on a class at Cholla High School on Wednesday, and found students really like these mind games.

Nothing like eyeballs and brains to grab a kid's interest.

The plastic models are just some of the tools the Cholla students used to learn about the brain. 

"I think it's cool. I like how the body works. I mean like there's a lot of stuff happening you don't even think about, like when you move your hands. It just happens and you're like, oh, that's cool," said one 15-year-old student.

The Cholla students are getting hands-on lessons in how the brain and the nervous system work.

Washington University in St. Louis created the Young Scientist Program.

"Our mission is to promote science awareness and interest in science careers," said Washington University graduate student Ariel Lyons-Warren.

Neuroscience graduate students from Washington University and the University of Arizona are finding ways to make science fun, to open minds and doors.

"That gives them a door so that they can have access to more information about science, maybe become interested and do more exploration on their own. And then, yeah, they go, hopefully, into science careers," said Lyons-Warren.

Another 15-year-old Cholla student said, "It makes me fell good that they want to teach kids and help us."

But, again, these are neuroscience grad students.

That's a pretty high caliber student for a high school classroom, yet they're learning from the younger students.

"Nothing quite like trying to explain what I do, to people, and getting the blank looks to make me realize that I really have to practice--not just doing science--but being able to talk about it, especially being able to teach it," said UA neuroscience grad student Sara Lewis.

So, the grad students are learning to communicate with young people, but also with the rest of us.

"Science impacts so much of what we do, and more importantly, the more active one is in learning about science, the more actively one can change or improve one's life," said Lewis.

Lots of lives being improved here, from the Cholla students to the grad students.

The grad students are volunteers.

The Young Scientist Program reaches 5,000 middle and high school students each year.

It's part of the International Brain Conference meeting in Tucson.

It's the first time it has been held here.

More than 100 brain experts are here, exchanging information on everything from pain to Lou Gehrig's disease.

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