Yesterday, 175 students from 4 schools across LA descended upon Cedars-Sinai to get an inside look at the human brain and explore career opportunities in the medical field. The visit was part of the Brainworks program created by Dr. Keith Black, chair of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai.
Dr. Black credits programs like Brainworks with encouraging his pursuit of medicine. He hopes this program will spark interest in STEM fields for students who might not otherwise think a career in science is possible for them.
“Brainworks began because we wanted to expose as many young minds as we could to how exciting science is,” says Dr. Black.
The junior high and high school students spent the day rotating through hands-on stations showcasing various skills and technology used in the hospital.
“We got to use a machine on a grapefruit to see how you would remove a tumor in the brain,” said 12-year-old Areli. “It was really cool.”
The students tried out real-life surgical equipment like the BrightMatter Guide, a GPS-like device that creates a map of the brain before surgery. They also took a virtual reality tour of the human body using technology currently being tested at Cedars-Sinai.
In addition to hands-on practice, the students also heard from Cedars-Sinai staff and learned about different careers they could choose in medicine.
“Brainworks began because we wanted to expose as many young minds as we could to how exciting science is.”
Neurosurgeon Dr. Tiffany Perry spoke to the kids about her medical mission trips and encouraged them to think about all the places a medical career could carry them. They also heard from Stroke Program coordinator Laurie Paletz, who taught the students about careers in nursing, and neurosurgery resident Dr. Julie Chan, who shared what motivated her to become a neurosurgeon.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Brainworks has always been about the kids and what they can accomplish, says Dr. Black.
“It’s great to see so many bright students with so much potential come through this program,” he says. “It’s exciting to think about what the students will do in the future.”