The Neuroscience Community Education Project studies how the social dynamics of students teaching and learning together may contribute to professional skills, well-being, and academic achievement.


Everyday Neuroscience

Everyday Neuroscience is an academically based community service course in which neuroscience majors create neuroscience lab activities for high school students who attend a nearby under-resourced public high school .

Everyday Neuroscience complements the traditional content-based neuroscience curriculum by preparing students to meaningfully deploy their knowledge beyond the traditional campus, building skills in communication, innovation, and critical thinking.

The neuroscience-based lab activities are designed to reinforce fundamental biological concepts, such as cell theory, diffusion and osmosis, protein function, organ structure-function relationships, evolution, and genetics.

Everyday Neuroscience is a collaboration with the science classes at Paul Robeson High School.  The teachers, administrators, and students at Robeson are vital to the success of the course.  Penn’s Netter Center for Community Engagement also provides generous guidance and support.


The Project Team

Lori Flanagan-Cato created the Everyday Neuroscience course in 2016.    She received her B.A. (psychology) from Rutgers, her Ph.D.  (neuroscience) from Pitt, and her M.Ed. (education policy) from Penn.

Paul Robeson High School, located in West Philadelphia, provides students with rigorous and relevant educational experiences.

The Netter Center for Community Partnerships is Penn’s core facility to foster beneficial relationships between the university and West Philadelphia.


Peter Nwaoba, a Penn psychology major (CAS, 2019), completed an independent study project entitled “Does an ABCS neuroscience outreach program improve high school achievement?”

Students interested in working on this project as a research assistant, an independent study student, or a work study student, can email Professor Flanagan-Cato to express interest.  A commitment of two semesters, 10 hours per week, is required.



What Works? Research

Each semester presents new insights into what Penn and Robeson students gain from the course and where the course can better address students’ needs.

In the coming year, the course will focus on:

    • team work skills for the Penn students
    • retention of science learning for the Robeson students
    • fundamental math skills for the Robeson students
    • critical thinking for both Penn and Robeson students


Flanagan-Cato, L.M.  Everyday Neuroscience: A Community Engagement Course.  Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, in press, 2019.



Loretta M. Flanagan-Cato, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology

Co-Director, Biological Basis of Behavior Program

Office Location

Department of Psychology

University of Pennsylvania

304B Lynch Biology Laboratory

433 South University Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6241

Office Phone 215-898-4085
Email Address flanagan@psych.upenn.edu