Experiential Learning

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 kids 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 Keswick Multi-care Center and 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. Four students per semester. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation and a mandatory exit session to be held onsite (Day/Time TBD). Students are required to provide a written description of their experiences and to discuss their experiences at the exit session. 

Time Commitment: 2-3 hours a week for the entire semester. Must provide medical immunization records to include flu shot and PPD (tuberculosis). 

Transportation will be provided by the JHMI shuttle. 

No credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.618 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 Egbuji

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 Bedell

Making Neuroscience Fun

Making Neuroscience Fun (MNF) is a community outreach program which brings age-appropriate interactive presentations about the brain and nervous system to Baltimore city and county elementary school students. Our students share their love of the sciences with young children, the elementary school students learn about the nervous system and our students learn valuable communication skills. MNF is an effort aimed at fostering appreciation for science in general, emphasizing the importance of the brain and the nervous system in everyday life, and enhancing the science curriculum in Baltimore’s City and County schools.

Hopkins students will receive initial training prior to participating and will select and present 6, 45-minute presentations. In order to participate, students must be available either 7am-11am or 11am-3pm at least one day per week, Monday-Friday. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation, a mandatory training 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. Students will also be given the opportunity to work with the faculty to develop new materials for the program. Presentations will take place at Baltimore city and county elementary schools.

Transportation to the schools will be via student carpools using Zipcars or personal vehicles.

No credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.614 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 King

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 Ighodaro

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.

No credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.612 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 Kang

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 Balshi

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.080.400 in SIS

HopKids – Kennedy Krieger Institute

This experiential learning provides the opportunity to learn and interact with children recovering from brain, spinal, and musculoskeletal injuries. Students will travel to the Kennedy Krieger Institute to volunteer in the Child Life Department where they will participate in a variety of therapeutic activities including playing with the children and helping them achieve goals on Saturdays (days/times TBA). Students will gain valuable clinical experience while learning patient empathy. 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 provided by the JHMI shuttle.

No credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.610 in SIS

I wanted an opportunity to not only work with children, but to also work with children who were actively patients. When I was told that some of the children could be nonverbal due to their conditions, I was a little worried about how I would successfully communicate, but I found it easy to talk with the children. I learned that really simple things could brighten the days of these children.

Myron Houngbedji

 I always have fun, more than anything else, when I volunteer in the Child Life Department, almost feeling like a kid myself again, and I look forward to returning again next semester. The experience is rewarding on so many accounts, but for me, I truly value the funny, memorable conversations and the constant laughter that you always find in the playroom. 

Katerina Krouglicof

HopKids – Children’s Center

This experiential learning provides students the opportunity to learn, play and interact with children receiving treatment in over 20 different specialties including dermatology, endocrine, GI, immunology, urology, plastics and hematology. Students will volunteer in outpatient clinics at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center where they will encourage, play and participate in a variety of activities including art projects, coloring, board games, and reading. Students will gain valuable clinical experience and be exposed to a wide range of children with a variety of diseases/illnesses. Students MUST attend a mandatory orientation and a mandatory exit session held on the Homewood campus (see section web notes for days/times. Students will sign up for 5 shifts on a first-come, first-serve basis after the mandatory orientation.

Shifts are Mondays 1pm-3pm, Tuesdays 10am-12pm, Wednesdays 1pm-3pm, Thursdays 10am-12pm and Fridays 10am-12pm throughout the semester. Students are required to present a written description of their experiences and to discuss their experiences at the exit session. Volunteer shifts will take place at outpatient clinics in the Rubenstein Child Health Building. Transportation will be provided by the JHMI shuttle.

No credit – S/U Grading Only. Register for AS.080.616 in SIS

It was an extremely rewarding experience to be able to interact with these patients and always warmed my heart when I helped them with recreational activities and was able to put a smile on their faces. I developed relationships with these children and adults with developmental disabilities. I was able to appreciate the importance of having special programs to address their unique needs.

Meghana Dantuluri

As a HopKids volunteer, we learn how to create safe, fun spaces for our patients to be as comfortable as they can, and in doing so, we hope that we alleviate some of the discomfort and suffering that accompanies being ill or having a disability. As most of us are pre-med students, I believe these skills and experiences are extremely important to our future as we hope to care for patients in increasingly impactful ways.

Charlotte Kwok