Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Organized by:
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Participating Organizations:

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute
Carilion Hospital
West End Center for Youth

Event(s) Summary

Number of Events Organized During Brain Awareness Week:




Type of Events Held:

  • School Program

Target Audiences:

  • Elementary school students (1-5)
  • High school students (9-12)

Approximate Number of People Reached:


Details of Major Brain Awareness Week Events/Activities:

Projects included: 1) the Bodies & Bites program, which was focused on 4th and 5th graders; and 2) MedDocs, which was focused on high school learners, and was held on the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) campus. Attendees included students from the West End Center for Youth (, which is an after school educational center that serves K-12 children who live in one of Roanoke’s most disadvantaged and under-served neighborhoods. Bodies & Bites was a four-week program at the West End Center that taught the kids about how their bodies work, and how to keep them healthy through good nutrition and exercise. This program was led by medical students from VTCSOM and graduate students from the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute (FBRI). These meetings were a combination of small group discussion and hands-on activities and crafts, and each session ended with making a healthy snack with the kids. MedDocs was an eight-week program at VTCSOM where high school students learned about neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and neuropathology from VTCSOM medical students and clinical faculty from our local Carilion Hospital network. Weekly meetings included interactive activities (e.g. sheep brain dissection, human-to-human interface), didactic lectures, and mentorship from medical students. The original objectives of the proposal were to 1) Improve neuroscience literacy for K-12 students at the West End Center; 2) Educate K-12 students on the best practices for how to maintain the vitality of their brains through healthy foods and healthy choices; 3) Provide a way for high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to gain exposure to career paths in science and medicine.

Event Planning & Publicity

Publicity Methods Used:

  • Advertisements
  • Emails
  • Posters/Flyers


What downloadable materials from the Foundation did you use for your events?

  • Lesson Plans Grades K-5
  • Lesson Plans Grades 9-12

What other downloadable materials would you like the Foundation to provide?

  • New Lesson Plans

Which BAW graphic materials did you use in publicizing your events?

  • Brain Awareness Week Logos

Feedback & Keys to Success

How do you feel BAW participation benefited your organization and the local community?

The 4th and 5th graders enjoyed Bodies & Bites, and the high school students had a similarly positive experience in the MedDocs program. We have already been invited back to the West End Center in the fall to do the Bodies & Bites program due to the positive response of the kids, and the directors of the center. We are also developing summer and fall programs for MedDocs, and plan to continue the neuroscience/neurology focus next Spring as well.

Please share any suggestions or lessons learned that may help others plan future events:

Teamwork makes the dream work. There were over 100 grad students, med students, clinicians, faculty, and staff who were involved in this project. A central core of organizers who planned all of the details and rapidly pivoted whenever necessary, and an inclusive focus on inviting volunteers made these efforts run quite smoothly for first-time efforts.

Event Photos

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Students at the West End Center learn about their nervous system.

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Students at the West End Center learn about the neuromuscular junction and make artificial hands.

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Students at the West End Center test their patellar reflex.

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Students at the West End Center learn about EMGs with help from Backyard Brains.

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Students from the West End Center learn about their nervous systems.

Contact Information

Contact Name:

Kristofer Rau

Contact Email:

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