2050 Views (as of 05/2023)
  1. Alicia Santiago
  2. Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
  4. Twin Cities PBS TPT
  1. Leah Defenbaugh
  2. SciGirls Outreach Manager
  4. Twin Cities PBS TPT
  1. Katie Hessen
  2. STEM Content and Outreach Specialist, Science Producer
  4. Twin Cities PBS TPT



2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

With support from the National Institutes of Health’s Science Education Partnership Award, Twin Cities PBS has created CEREBROedu: Una Ventana al Cerebro. This multi-year project, created with and for Latinx parents, educators, equity specialists and thought leaders, provides culturally responsive educational programming and digital resources to Latinx middle school students and their families in under-served communities. By engaging 18 Latinx-focused educational organizations nationwide, CEREBROedu:

  • Uses current research to help youth learn about the structure and function of the healthy and unhealthy brain, including disorders such as Alzheimer’s, depression, and epilepsy;
  • Encourages participating youth and their families to consider careers in neuroscience and/or brain health; and 
  • Promotes mental health literacy among participants. 


All CEREBROedu content is created and validated by neuroscience/mental health and cultural responsiveness experts, field-tested, refined, and independently evaluated. Resources include: 

  • Bilingual (Spanish/English) programming for children and families, featuring hands-on educational activities around neuroscience and mental health information;  
  • Bilingual digital media assets including brief videos highlighting Latinx role models who work in neuroscience and mental health professions; and  
  • Professional development workshops for Latinx-serving informal STEM educators on best practices for integrating CEREBROedu activities and media into existing programming. 


CEREBROedu’s resources help participants:

  • Learn about the brain’s structure, function, and certain disorders, as well as best practices and everyday habits that foster and maintain brain health; 
  • Demonstrate a higher level of awareness and enthusiasm about neuroscience education pathways and career opportunities; and 
  • Access resources to discuss and seek support for brain disorders and mental health conditions. 


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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (17 posts)
  • Icon for: Leah Defenbaugh

    Leah Defenbaugh

    SciGirls Outreach Manager
    May 11, 2021 | 10:35 a.m.

    Hello, All! We're excited to share CEREBROedu with you!

    CEREBROedu is a national Spanish/English informal education project providing culturally competent programming and media resources about the brain’s structure and function to Hispanic middle school students and their families. The program itself includes:

    - Six hour of professional development for educators,

    - Thirteen hands-on activities exploring the functions of the brain,

    - Six role model videos with discussion guides,

    - A family guide with activities and media resources for the whole family, and

    - A robust evaluation and iteration program.

    Additionally, our team has worked with programs all over the country to adjust CEREBROedu for virtual or in person programs.

    In the final year of this project, we are excited to share our findings and our program with the public. How do you approach the topic of brain health in your programs? What sorts of activities or resources would be useful, or do you not see? How do you ensure that equity is a top focus, especially during a pandemic?

    We are excited to learn and discuss these topics with you!

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Katie Hessen
  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 13, 2021 | 03:28 p.m.


    ¡Gracias por visitarnos! Nuestro proyecto, CEREBROedu: Una ventana al cerebro, financiado por los Institutos Nacionales de Salud, proporciona programas educativos y recursos bilingües digitales culturalmente competentes para estudiantes latinx de primaria y secundaria y sus familias en comunidades marginadas. Los recursos de CEREBROedu incluyen:

    • Programación bilingüe (español / inglés) para niños y familiares, con actividades educativas prácticas sobre neurociencia e información sobre salud mental;
    • Recursos de medios digitales bilingües que incluyen videos breves que destacan los modelos a seguir de Latinx que trabajan en las profesiones de neurociencia y cuidado de la salud mental; y
    • Talleres de desarrollo profesional para educadores sobre las mejores prácticas para integrar las actividades y los recursos multimedia de BRAINedu en su programación existente.

    CEREBROedu busca que los jóvenes, familias y educadores participantes:

    • Conozcan la estructura, función y ciertos trastornos del cerebro (Alzheimer’s, depression and epilepsy), así como las mejores prácticas y hábitos cotidianos que fomentan y mantienen la salud del cerebro;
    • Aumenten su conocimiento acerca de la neurociencia y las oportunidades profesionales que ofrece; y
    • Se sientan empoderados para discutir y buscar apoyo para trastornos cerebrales y afecciones de salud mental.

    Visita el sitio web de CEREBROedu para ver videos de modelos a seguir, explorar los talleres de desarrollo profesional, consultar actividades para jóvenes y materiales familiares, ¡y aprender más sobre el programa!

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Senior Researcher
    May 12, 2021 | 10:06 a.m.

    Many thanks to you and your team for creating this video and sharing your work. Involving educators, students, and families in the project is fabulous, for it allows more children/teens to learn about the brain and engage in science activities.  I can image the types of support you provide to educators in PD, but am wondering about the family guide/media and what it includes. If families haven't done these types of activities previously, what guidance did you offer so they could explore the topic/activities and keep children engaged?  Were there any evaluation findings, related to the family guide and its implementation, that led you to make changes earlier in the project? If so, could you provide an example?  Or were there other things you learned early on that helped you to refine the program?

    I look forward to reading about your findings and this important work in the future!  

  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 13, 2021 | 03:24 p.m.

    Hi Karen!

    Thanks for your interest in our program! The CEREBRO Family Guide is one of the educational resources produced during Years 1 and 2 of the project. The guide contains activities and media resources to encourage families to learn more about the structure and function of the brain, brain conditions, and reduce mental health stigma. The guide is organized into 3 chapters that cover Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and depression. There is a brief introduction to each brain condition followed by a link to clips from award-winning PBS films (that are also included in the CEREBROedu website). We encourage families to watch the short 1–4-minute clips and use the family-friendly questions included in the guide to have conversations together. The questions are meant to spark diverse conversations such as discussing the impact of different brain conditions on family life, encourage youth to think about the design of technologies or devices that could help people that live with epilepsy, depression, and Alzheimer’s, and help families reflect on their perspectives about mental health to help alleviate the stigma of mental health conditions. The guide also includes simple, short, family-friendly activity to learn more about how the brain works.

    Educators running the programs receive online training to empower them to learn how to use the different resources (curriculum, role model profile videos, Family Guide) to engage youth and families around learning about the brain, neuroscience, and mental health career pathways. They also learn how to use the Family Guide to spark family discussions about mental health.

    The implementation evaluation for Year 2 showed that educators found the CEREBROedu Family Guide to be a valuable resource and encouraged parents/guardians to use the guide at home. When parents/guardians were asked about the use of the Family Guide at home, 27% of them said they used the guide to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, or depression, and 31% said they used the guide to talk about these conditions with their family. Also, 19% of the families said they used the guide to do hands-on activities about the brain at home with their children. Interestingly, even though all partners indicated that they shared the Family Guide with their participants, there were differences in how partners encouraged families to use the guide. Some partners used the Family Guide during their programs to do hands-on activities with the families, and watch the PBS video clips about brain illnesses, while others only shared the guide with families and verbally encouraged them to use it at home. To further encourage families to use the guide at home, we will share more detailed guidelines and tips with educators on how they can encourage families to use the guide at home. For example, educators and families could explore the content of the Family Guide together during the CEREBROedu Welcome event to spark interest and curiosity among families on the activities, and videos included in the guide.

    From the implementation evaluation we also learned that it is key to provide all materials and resources in Spanish. At the time of implementation not all our resources were available in Spanish. For example, not all our hands-on activities were translated to English. At least half of the educators indicated that they would have liked to have more activities in Spanish. Currently, all our hands-on activities are available in Spanish. We have also reformatted curriculum activities, and provided additional information (i.e., activity times, vocabulary) as per feedback from educators.

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Senior Researcher
    May 14, 2021 | 01:34 p.m.

    Thank you, Alicia, for a detailed description of the Guide and how it is being shared and used.  It sounds like an excellent resource, especially when they participants have a personal connection.  I hadn't really thought about that as a motivating force for using the Guide.  I think figuring out the reasons why it wasn't used by some families and providing more detailed guidelines will add value to the good work you have already done.  Your research provides a strong foundation for future development and studies!  

  • Icon for: Laura Seifert

    Laura Seifert

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 12, 2021 | 02:45 p.m.

    This looks like an amazing resource! I see your focuses on depression, Alzheimer's, and epilepsy. How were those focuses chosen? And do you include content on concussion or brain safety? Just asking as a mom who is pushing my kiddos to where a helmet! Thanks! 

  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 13, 2021 | 04:10 p.m.

    Hi Laura, thanks for stopping by :)  

    Alzheimer's, depression, and epilepsy are some of the most common mental health conditions among Latinx. Interestingly, Latinx are more likely than Whites to develop Alzheimer's disease. Dementia is a looming among Latinx but largely unrecognized public health crisis in the United States. Research around epilepsy also shows that it is more common in people of Latinx background than in non-Latinx. The causes of these differences are unknown, but may be related to social and economic factors. Even though there is a high prevalence of mental health conditions among Latinx, they are less likely than non-Latinx Whites to seek treatment. Many of them rely on advice from family members, friends or spiritual advisers. The under-utilization of services may also be attributed to cultural views, faith, language barriers, privacy concerns, stigma surrounding mental illness and basic lack of information and misunderstanding about mental health. CEREBROedu wants to empower Latinx youth and their families to learn more about the brain, help reduce mental health stigma, and spark interest among youth in neuroscience and mental health career options. 

    I don't believe we have specific content on concussions, but I invite you to check out the activities in Module 1 (https://www.cerebroedu.org/educator-resources). It is a fun introduction to the brain and the importance of keeping it safe and healthy.  Cheers!

  • Icon for: Daniel Serrano

    Daniel Serrano

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 08:11 p.m.

    This project sounds awesome. It seems like you've successfully implemented some aspects that our own project is just starting to explore and I'd love to hear more about how you went about it.


    How did you go about identifying educational organizations to collaborate with?


    Is your link to students and families exclusively through these organizations, or did you have other ways to connect with your intended audience of students and families?

  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 13, 2021 | 04:47 p.m.

    Hi Daniel, thanks for your comment!  :)

    To implement CEREBROedu, we are leveraging existing partnerships with Hispanic-serving educational organizations across the country. For over the past 10 years, Twin Cities PBS has been working on building a strong national network of community-based organizations with a shared commitment to STEM learning. Many of these organizations serve Latinx youth and their families. Specifically, this program leverages partnerships from our SciGirls CONNECT Network ( SciGirls is an NSF-funded project that aims at engaging middle-school age girls in STEM). This network includes over 204 partner organizations across 35 states and the territory of Puerto Rico. The map of partners organizations can be found here. Many of our partners serve Spanish-speaking youth and families. For CEREBROedu, we are currently working with 18 community-based partner organizations that serve Latinx families. (click here for more information on participating organizations). We also collaborate with the National Girls Collaborative  (NGC) who has an extensive network of partner organizations. NGC brings together organizations throughout the country that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. 

  • Icon for: Daniel Serrano

    Daniel Serrano

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2021 | 02:09 p.m.

    Thanks for the thorough answer, Alicia!

  • Icon for: Eric Pyle

    Eric Pyle

    May 13, 2021 | 09:47 a.m.

    I especially liked how accessible the program appeared to be not just to students and educators, but to parents and families, as well.  Receiving focuses learning opportunities in the neurosciences (and behavioral, as well) offers not just career insights, but introspective skills, as well.  I'd like to know more about the dissemination network, and how Latinx populations outside of expected regions might be reached, such as rural NC and VA.

  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 17, 2021 | 11:31 a.m.

    Hi Eric! 

    Thanks for your question. To disseminate resources and expand the reach of the project, we develop and leverage existing partnerships with national network of Hispanic-serving youth educational organizations and public health professionals. The project is currently reaching 72 Hispanic-serving informal STEM educators and public health professionals, and about 200 children and 400 parents/caregivers in underserved urban, suburban, and rural communities nationwide. 

    In the summer of 2020, we recruited 10 more partners from across the country (i.e., Roanoke, VA, Raleigh, NC, Waco Texas, etc.)  that are currently being trained to deliver the CEREBROedu program (using the updated curriculum) this coming summer and fall. Several of our partners serve rural, low-income Latinx families. One example is Oregon Afterschool For Kids (OregonASK), a CEREBROedu partner that implemented the program with Farmworkers Housing Development Corporation (FHDC) in Woodburn Oregon. FHDC serves primarily low-income farmworkers including Latinx families. Here, you will find a map of the participation organizations.

    Members of our advisory board are also promoting the curriculum and media within their networks and share organizations with us who might find the resources useful.

  • Icon for: Rachel Alatalo

    Rachel Alatalo

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2021 | 04:07 p.m.

    This is such a cool project! 

    My team has also been working on creating culturally responsive educational resources for Latinx and emerging bilingual students. Since there are so many varieties of dialect and life experiences among Latinx people, how did your team go about crafting content that would be culturally competent for many members of this diverse group?

  • Icon for: Alicia Santiago

    Alicia Santiago

    Lead Presenter
    Scientist and Cultural and Diversity Consultant
    May 17, 2021 | 12:06 p.m.

    Hi Rachel!

    We used several approaches to develop culturally responsive resources that Latinx youth and families would find interesting and engaging. Our independent evaluation partner helped us gather input from Latinx middle school youth and their parents/guardians living in underserved communities, and project’s advisors and partners. Over 80 participants representing these diverse audience perspectives were asked to review a set of materials including sample role model profile videos and a curriculum content framework. Regarding media resources, we gathered feedback related to the overall appeal and relatability of the role model videos, amount of information included in the videos, level of scientific explanations, use of Spanish-language, inclusion of personal experience with mental illness, etc. Participants also gave us feedback related to the overall appeal, clarity, and relatability of the curriculum content framework, amount of information and science density, interest in the topics being considered for each of the modules, potential “hooks” to engage youth, overall organization, use and likelihood of recommending the curriculum. We also obtained feedback on other resources such as the Family Guide.  This helped us assess prior to significant production or development work, the extent to which the feedback validated our key assumptions in planning CEREBROedu, including the importance of developing Spanish language resources, showcasing Latinx role models, and featuring more authentic and culturally appropriate elements.

  • Icon for: Kara Dawson

    Kara Dawson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 13, 2021 | 07:30 p.m.

    What a wonderful project. It seems like it could be replicated for many different cultures and languages. Does the curriculum include anything about the brain and addiction?

  • Icon for: Katie Hessen

    Katie Hessen

    STEM Content and Outreach Specialist, Science Producer
    May 18, 2021 | 06:32 p.m.

    Hi Kara,

    The curriculum does not have any activities that address addiction. We focused our curriculum on activities that had an engaging hands-on component that could be taught without educators having the expertise of a neuroscientist or mental health professional. A key example is learning about parts of the brain, culminating in a sheep brain dissection!

  • Icon for: Eric Hamilton

    Eric Hamilton

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2021 | 04:56 p.m.

    Leah and all, this is a very instructive and interesting video.  Thank you.  Do you have a sense of why some demographics differ on vulnerability to Alzheimer's?  My understanding is that Japanese elderly are more vulnerable also, though perhaps that is not accurate.  Anyway, thank you again.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.