BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Ridge High School graduate Siddhant Kumarapuram Ganapath is passing on his passion for neuroscience to fellow Basking Ridge students.
Ganapath created The Brain Bunch after attending the Cedar Hill Elementary School STEM Fair as the president of the Brain Bee Club in high school — which was a neuroscience competition club.
"I wanted to inspire our club to partake in outreach activities, and so I partnered with the assistant principal to set up a booth displaying neuroscience topics to students at Cedar Hill," Ganapath said. "Realizing the success and inspiring curiosity amongst the students, I decided to further my involvement in neuroscience outreach by creating The Brain Bunch organization after high school."
Although he expanded the program to Newark, Metuchen, Elizabeth, North Brunswick, and other areas, he continued to work with Cedar Hill to bring this STEM program to students in the school.
In March, Ganapath had more than 100 4th grade students at Cedar Hill learning about the brain through a neuroscience outreach session hosted by the Brain Bunch.
As part of the program, students from five classrooms had the opportunity to become directly involved in learning about the brain through hands-on activities and demonstrations set up in the library of the school.
The children were exposed to challenging concepts, ranging from brain anatomy to the effect of virtual distractions on the brain. Each lesson was accompanied by an activity performed in groups of 7 to 8 students.
The activities involved in the session included brain tissue microscopy, neural circuit construction, magic/optical illusions, and cartoon distractions. The lesson applied neuroscience to topics of interest for elementary school students in hopes of advancing early STEM learning to the discovery of the brain.
However, given the sudden virtual transition following the COVID-19 outbreak, Cedar Hill elementary school put a halt on its in-person programming sessions with The Brain Bunch.
The Brain Bunch constructed interactive, online programs for the 5th grade class of Cedar Hill. The weekly sessions started at the end of May and taught students about concepts relating to the brain, including optical illusions and awareness.
"Understanding the brain at a young age can entice students to learn more about neuroscience in the future. It was very exciting to see the great level of interest and scientific thinking amongst these future leaders of our society," explained Ganapath. "Despite the advanced level of content covered, the students are very involved in the activities and ready to learn more, which is very promising for the field of neuroscience."
Over the past year, The Brain Bunch has reached 428 students. The organization strives to continue working with schools and libraries across the state and beyond to host virtual neuroscience programming sessions during the summer. The Brain Bunch hopes to return to Cedar Hill next year with novel neuroscience content for the 4th and 5th grade students.
To learn more about The Brain Bunch visit thebrainbunch.com.
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