Congratulations to all the MRC CBU staff and students who created and delivered the BrainBus project, which has won the BNA award for public engagement of neuroscience: https://www.bna.org.uk/mediacentre/news/bna-prize/
Each year, the BNA acknowledge and reward researchers and students for their amazing work and contribution to neuroscience. The winners are chosen by the BNA Council and Committee members, and were awarded during the BNA Festive symposium, which took place virtually on Monday 13 December.
The purpose of the BrainBus project is to transport diverse neuroscientists and hands-on cognitive neuroscience to the primary school classroom. The objective of the project is to start a cascade of experiences to support underrepresented young people, including those from ethnic minorities and deprived socio-economic backgrounds, to engage in neuroscience and, eventually, higher education and science careers. With pilot funding from the University of Cambridge Diversity Fund, BrainBus involved 40 volunteers from the MRC CBU community, including students, scientists and support staff, diverse with respect to gender identity, age, nationality, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The project was led by two Programme Leader Track scientists (Rogier Kievit and Kate Baker). Many of the volunteers assisted with designing and developing experiments and resources for the visits, which could be taken “off the shelf” by any BrainBus crew dispatched to a school. During the pandemic, BrainBus has continued remotely by posting activities and resources on the MRC CBU website, as well as contributing to the Unit’s remote Science Night as part of Cambridge Science Festival.
Kate Baker, BB spokesperson said, “Nobody can quite remember who came up with the BrainBus idea, because there was such a groundswell of feeling within CBU that this was something we really wanted to do. The sense of shared purpose and team commitment made it fun and easy. We knew it was a good idea as soon as we contacted schools. We received such a warm response and enthusiastic welcome at every school – we definitely learned more from the children than they learned from us! It’s really exciting to light a spark of interest which could lead to a science career one day. This BNA award means a lot to us – it recognises the hard work of the whole BrainBus team, and also acknowledges the importance of engaging with young people from diverse communities”.
BB volunteer Diandra Brkic said, “It was a huge privilege to work alongside different neuroscientists to design interactive in-class and online activities, and a pleasure to see that children and teachers truly enjoyed them. I am really proud of what BrainBus has achieved in the past two years, and I hope that this initiative will continue to travel around, promoting science and inspiring generations to come.”