The Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience offers a variety of experiential learning courses, which are not required for the major but allow students to gain real experience working with children of all ages and the aging community. See below for descriptions and students reflections.

Helping an Aging Community: Social and Cognitive Support for Seniors

This experiential learning opportunity provides a hands-on experience, working side-by-side with elderly individuals at the Roland Park Place. Students will have a chance to interact with residents that have both short-term and long-term cognitive and physical impairments. The residents typically live on the premises but may also be participating in a daytime care only program. Students will interact with the residents in various enriching ways in order to develop a better understanding of how our mind and body ages with time. Students will gain hands-on experience working with residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments that effect the body and the brain. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation and a mandatory exit session (see Section Web Notes for dates/times). Students are required to provide a written description of their experiences and to discuss their experiences at the exit session.

Time Commitment: a minimum of five (1-2 hours) visits during the semester. Students must provide updated medical immunization records to include – flu shot, COVID-19 and PPD (tuberculosis). Background check required. Transportation will be provided by the JHMI shuttle.

1 credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.404 in SIS

I’m happy that I was able to provide social support and assistance to the elderly, as well as learn a few things about the personal/past lives of the residents. The community as a whole (staff and residents) were all welcoming and the volunteer coordinator was very helpful in guiding me through the typical morning activities.

Kenneth, Class of 2020

All of the residents I interacted with had vibrant personalities, even more so than I was expecting, which was a pleasant surprise for me! It made it incredibly easy to strike up a conversation over a game of bingo on Fridays that ended up being more enjoyable than the game itself. Yes; you could certainly tell that these individuals were not in perfect health, neither physically nor mentally, but that was a barrier that could be easily overcome as long as you were willing to be patient and be intentional.

Chris, Class of 2022

Making Neuroscience Fun

The goal of Making Neuroscience Fun (MNF), a community outreach program, is to educate Baltimore city and county elementary school students, on how to achieve good mental health by focusing on the role the brain plays in our Social, Physical, Emotional and Cognitive (SPEC) health. The MNF-Brain Health: It’s SPECtacular program focuses on using scientific research as the foundation for developing information about brain (mental) health and relaying the information in an age-appropriate manner. In order to participate, JHU students must be available for a 3 hours block of time at least one day per week, Monday-Friday. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation and a mandatory exit session held on the Homewood campus (TBD). Transportation to the schools will be via the Hopkins Shuttle.

1 credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.402 in SIS

I really enjoyed teaching kids about neuroscience through Making Neuroscience Fun. It was a great experience that allowed me to further develop my ability to explain challenging concepts in a fun, exciting, and easy-to-understand way. Moreover, I absolutely loved how engaged and involved the kids were. They always participated when we asked them questions and they even had a lot of questions to ask us.

Shakira, Class of 2020

This is my third semester being a making neuroscience fun instructor and I keep doing it again because I love the interactions I have with the kids. They always surprise me with how curious that are about the brain. My favorite part of the presentations is when they get to ask questions at the end. Here is when I can really see their enthusiasm and interest in our presentation. Doing this program has really added to m college experience and I can’t wait to do more presentations next fall!

Edo, Class of 2020

KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now)

In this experiential learning opportunity, students will work with children who have a variety of neurological disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome through exercise and recreational activities. We partner with the KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now), a nonprofit organization. Student “coaches” will receive a profile for the KEEN athlete that they will pair up with during a session. Students will receive initial training and then select 4 sessions to attend. Sessions are held on the first and third Sunday of each month during the semester at KEEN centers in Maryland. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation and a mandatory exit session held on the Homewood campus (see section web notes for days/times). Students are required to present a written description of their experiences and to discuss their experiences at the exit session.

Transportation will be via student carpools using Zipcars, personal vehicles or Hop Vans.

1 credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.401 in SIS

Watch the volunteer orientation video.

Getting to know the kids gave me a better understanding of what certain mental health problems such as autism and downs-syndrome looked like on a communication and social level. Overall, this program has helped me view the population of people with mental disorders in a new and positive light while socializing with interesting people with similar interests.

Daniel, Class of 2022

My experiences volunteering through this program were incredibly rewarding. Being paired with a child and interacting with them at length provided me with hands-on experience with autism and other neurological disorders, an experience I could not have anywhere else. Knowing that these children’s parents were able to take time to attend to their own things and relax while their child was in good hands was gratifying.

Alexandra, Class of 2021

Practicum in Language Disorders

Aphasia is a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language, which affects a person’s ability to use or comprehend spoken and written words. Although aphasia affects a person’s ability to communicate, it does not affect their intellect. It can occur as a result of a head trauma, tumor, or, in most cases, a stroke (one third of all stroke survivors are diagnosed with aphasia). In this practicum, students will receive training in supportive communication techniques and work as a communication partner with an individual with aphasia for two hours per week at the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement.

The mission of the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement is to improve the quality of life for people living with aphasia and their families by providing individuals with a place to connect and by offering interactive group activities designed to support and empower members as they re-engage with the community.

Prerequisites: Students with a junior or senior status. Students must have taken and earned an A- or above in 080.203, 050.203, 050.105, or 050.311. A minimum major GPA of 3.5 is required.

Three class meetings for orientation and reading assignments will be held on campus; training and practicum will be conducted at a local aphasia support center, the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement. Transportation required.

Register for AS.080.505 in SIS