This past July, the Youth Education and Maternal Support Association (YEMSA), with the support of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program, hosted approximately 30 high school students from the Philadelphia region as part of Temple’s College Bound Academy. This academy is a weeklong event that provides youth in the foster care system a chance to have an immersive college experience. The participants spend a week living at the dorms on campus, and spend each day at different departments on the Main Campus and the Health Sciences Campus to learn more about what college is like and gain insights into the careers that are possible.

Undergraduates from the Department of Psychology and CLA Neuroscience Program, along with members of YEMSA, ran two events for the academy: a panel on what it is like to be an undergraduate student in Psychology or Neuroscience and a “brain awareness” event with interactive stations. Two of our undergraduates, Madison Ahearn and Ahmad Goode, volunteered to be panelists and shared a bit of their own life stories and their college experiences.  Following the panel, the academy participants were able to spend time at six different interactive stations that provided an engaging way to learn about the brain. Our undergraduate volunteers for this portion were Josh Ross, Grace Bortner, Kayla Kulp, Jennifer Luu, Samantha Sprechman, Chau Do, and Charita Kunta.

At each station, our undergraduates started with a brief description of what brain function the activity was helping demonstrate, and then provided opportunities for students to participate and ask questions about the brain. The activities ranged from a “tricking the brain” station that included a taste perception demo, to an “EEG station” where participants were able to try on an EEG device (complete with cat ears) that registered changes in cortical activity.

Harold Brooks, who helps organize the College Bound Academy in conjunction with Temple’s Center for Social Policy and Community Development, said that the youth found our event “interesting, exciting and interactive and the students left with a newfound knowledge and interest in Psychology.” YEMSA is continuing to work with Mr. Brooks at the nearby Achieving Independence Center (AIC), a Temple-affiliated program that provides education and vocational training to youth in foster care.  For the upcoming semester, YEMSA has three education-related workshops planned at the AIC and we look forward to continuing our outreach with the support of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program.

To learn more about YEMSA or participate in our events, please contact Dr. Mansi Shah (shah@temple.edu, faculty advisor).

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