Worthing Rice Apprentice Program

19 Worthing High School Apprentices visit Rice each Wednesday afternoon to study neuroscience with University students and professors in a customized curriculum featuring theory, experiment and computation designed by the head mentors and faculty sponsors.

Here is a 6-minute movie of WRAP at work and play.

To get involved send mail to Steve Cox

ScheduleAll sessions held at Brown House unless noted otherwise
Thursday, October 4, 6:30-8:30pm, WRAP BBQ at Worthing High School
Wednesday, October 10, 1-3:30pm, Tour the Byrne Lab at UTHSCH
Wednesday, October 17, 1-3:30pm, Worms and Spikes and Velocity
Wednesday, October 23, HISD early Dismissal, No WRAP
Wednesday, October 30, 1-3:30pm, The Passive Neuron From Biology to Mathematical Model
Wednesday, November 5, 1-3:30pm, The Passive Neuron Testing the model by hand and computer
Wednesday, November 12, 1-3:30pm, The Passive Neuron Building and testing the model with hardware
Wednesday, February 4, 1-3:30pm, The Active Neuron Building and testing the model with hardware

Program: Our Goal is to challenge students to learn by learning how the brain learns. To meet this we deliver a hands-on introduction and integration of mathematics, biology, electronics, and computer programming.

Expectations: Apprentices need to be confident and proficient in algebra and excited about the opportunity to better know their brain. Mentors need not be experts, just patient advanced learners curious about the brain and eager to share their curiosity with High School Students.

History: WRAP is entering its 10th year, with generous funding from Terrence and Terry Gee and the National Science Foundation.

Course Outline

  1. Neuronal spikes serve as the currency of the brain. We record and analyze spikes from insect legs.
  2. We can better understand nerve cells by building electronic copies of them. This leads us into the very useful study of resistors, capacitors, amplifiers and filters. Each small group constructs their own cell and synapse (junction to neighbor's cell).
  3. We next connect these cells into small networks, or brains, and probe their capacity for problem solving.
  4. Our brains are of course comprised of larger networks. But rather than simply growing our experimental network we instead build circuits that permit us to eavesdrop on the brain. The amplifiers and filters we studied in part 2 can be adapted to build an EEG, electroencephalogram. Each group builds a circuit that reads brain activity from pairs of electrodes that rest on the scalp.
  5. We next learn how to decompose these measured brain waves into the frequency bands, e.g., alpha, beta, gamma, associated with specific brain states.
  6. We then develop the ability, through neurofeedback, to control the amount of energy (or thought) in each frequency band.
  7. Finally, we design, develop and implement video games that use thought, via our EEG machine, to guide the action.