In April, two BrainReach North volunteers, Megan and Sébastien travelled to Waskaganish to teach neuroscience to indigenous youth in their community. For Sébastien, this was his second trip north with BRN, whereas it was a first for Megan. Similarly to his trip to Kuujjuarapik last year, this trip was a product of circumstance; Shaun McMahon, the principal with whom he was generously provided accommodation last year, had since transferred to the Cree community of Waskaganish. Fortuitously, this also happened to be the same community in which Sébastien had spent two months helping prepare high school students for ministerial science exams three years prior!
In October of 2018, BrainReach North sent volunteers up to a Cree community in the Eeyou Istchee on James Bay called Chisasibi, home to 4500 people. BrainReach North, an organization run by Neuroscience graduate students at McGill University, focuses on science outreach aimed at northern Indigenous communities in Quebec. Volunteers work to get kids excited about science and to inspire them to pursue their passion for problem solving and learning about the natural world. Over three days, volunteers taught ~200 students at Waapinichikush Elementary School. These lessons were given to students in grades 3 to 6, and focused on topics such as why animal brains have different shapes and sizes, how our brains can trick us into seeing things that are not there, and how our attention works.
It has been an exciting year for BrainReach North! We have been developing lots of new teaching materials, forging collaborations with school boards, and reaching out to northern communities for opportunities to bring hands-on neuroscience lessons to their schools.
A lot of planning and preparation over the past year culminated in two successful outreach trips done this May; the first trip was to Kuujjuarapik, and the second to Mistissini and Waswanipi. We are grateful to our contacts in these communities for welcoming us warmly and making these trips possible!
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