K-12 Education and Outreach Programs

K-12 Education and Outreach Programs

Project Brainstorm

Project Brainstorm brings upper division Neuroscience students from UCLA into K – 12 classrooms in the Los Angeles area to present lessons and a series of hands-on activities demonstrating brain anatomy, organization, and function. The program runs Winter and Spring quarters. For more details on Project Brainstorm, please read the following articles published in the Public Library of Science (Biology) and International Innovation journals. For information, please contact brainstorm@ucla.edu.


Neurocamp is a 3 week summer program offered to motivated Los Angeles area high school students with an interest in Neuroscience. NeuroCamp meets on the UCLA campus and students learn fundamentals of neuroscience and basic lab techniques in three modules that cover brain anatomy and imaging, molecular and forensic neuroscience, and electrophysiology. Admission is by written application and includes a statement of interest in Neuroscience and a letter of recommendation from a teacher or mentor. For additional information and current deadlines, please contact the NeuroCamp director, William Grisham, Ph.D. at grisham@lifesci.ucla.edu. Please note that transportation and housing are not provided for out of area students.

County and State Science Fairs

The Brain Research Institute sponsors awards at both the Los Angeles County and California State Science Fairs for outstanding projects in neuroscience.  At the county science fair, two special award winners, one from the Junior Division and one from the Senior Division are selected by one or more judges from UCLA and the awards are presented at the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the science fair.  At the state science fair, three special awards (first, second, and third place) in both the Junior and Senior Divisions are presented.  Project posters are reviewed by a panel of judges from the Brain Research Institute and the awards are presented at the conclusion of the poster session (2nd and 3rd place) or in the Division awards ceremonies (1st place) at the conclusion of the science fair. Each award winner receives a certificate and a cash prize in celebration of their achievement.

High School Site Visits: Drug Abuse and Society

Drug Abuse and Society is a special class that trains UCLA senior neuroscience students to present accurate, knowledgeable, and age-appropriate lectures on specific legal and illegal drugs of abuse to high school students. The UCLA students and their instructors visit traditionally underserved high schools to provide both a scientific and policy based education with the aim of both inspiring teenagers who may be interested in a career in addiction and mental health research, and educating teens on the risks of drug use.

The Los Angeles Brain Bee

The Los Angeles Brain Bee is a local competition where high school students from the LA area can come and showcase their neuroscience knowledge. The competition has a series of written and practical tests to determine a small number of finalists from a larger pool of participants. The finalists then go on to compete in a Jeopardy style Q/A game to determine the winner. This student goes on to represent LA in the national Brain Bee. Each Los Angeles Brain Bee features a special neuroscience lecture from a prominent faculty member, open to students, teachers and parents. The BRI has helped sponsor this event for the last several years and hosted the event on campus every few years, including in 2018 and 2020. Interaxon is heavily involved in the Brain Bee and assists coordination of the day’s activities such as proctoring and grading the tests, and taking the students and parents to tour labs around campus. Information on application deadlines and other instructions can be found at the Brain Bee website.

CELL Scholars

CELL Scholars (Cultivating Early Laboratory Learning) is a UCLA BRI outreach program which aims to provide early exposure to scientific research and to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM. CELL Scholars provides paid research positions for high school students (Grades 11-12) from underrepresented backgrounds to conduct research in UCLA laboratories during the school year. High school students are paired with a graduate student mentor to hone technical skills at the bench, learn coding skills for computational projects, and gain career and college advice from individuals in the field. Outside of the laboratory, workshops and seminars are held by UCLA graduate students and faculty to help students build critical skills for a career in STEM.