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Taking science to the next level for North Chicago high schoolers

The Augustana College Neuroscience Experience

Offered by the City of North Chicago, Warhawk Summer Up! challenges students to "think beyond the classroom" by connecting them with experiences that enrich their learning, and offer valuable insight to what they can expect from higher education and the careers that a college degree can bring.

In one of many programs offered, students get an immersive introduction to the the field of neuroscience in a four-day workshop held at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

"My mom told me: "When I was your age, I didn’t have the opportunities you have, so I want you to fulfill what you want to do, and I want you to be able to have those opportunities, and I’m not just going to let you throw them away!" -Kelly F., NCCHS Class of 2020

Michelle G., NCCHS Class of 2020 At just 17, Michelle knows she wants to be a veterinarian and she’s thinking about how to make it happen. Last summer, as a rising junior in NCCHS’ Health Care Career Pathway, Michelle thought the 4-day neuroscience experience at Augustana College was a perfect match. “This opportunity caught my attention: it was a way to get the full experience so when I graduate, when I choose a college, I know what to do.”

"Being in the Amazing Brain class all day was challenging, but interactive. “We did an experiment with a cockroach leg, using a machine that connected the leg to a speaker, and played music. The sound waves went through the cockroach leg, and it moved by itself. We used that equipment to connect us too: when I’d move my hand, my partner’s hand would move. It was crazy!”

The time Michelle spent in a cadaver lab was a new experience, but not the only one. “I thought somebody was going to be with you, but you’re independent. There were fun things to do in the evenings: bowling, movies, the arcade.” Michelle noticed how students were expected to take initiative. “We got to ask a lot of questions. You’re kind of on your own, and it’s not like school here where the teachers wait for you if you don’t understand something. If you don’t understand something, you need to ask the questions.”

Ricky I., NCCHS Class of 2020

Ricky was amazed by the Amazing Brain professors and the classes. It was school like he’d never seen it before. “They’re trying to teach you like a real college student. We did a lot of learning through listening, and the professor gave us time to talk in our groups. He was open-minded about everything. If we had a question, he would stop the class and answer our question. That was pretty impressive.”

It went beyond the classroom too. Everything about the place was a change in the way he was used to doing things. “You had to be in class on time and make sure you had everything. We didn’t use our phone to get places on time: we just used our brains.”

Life on a college campus had an impact on Ricky. “It’s a good learning experience. It teaches you how to be independent and to be a bigger person. I learned a lot, and I was open-minded about everything. I felt like a grown man there because we were so independent.”

Nathalie Martinez, NCCHS Class of 2019

Experiments with cockroach legs and cafeteria food that was actually good were just a few of the surprises awaiting Kelly, during her four-day stay at Augustana College last summer.

“I was scared to meet new people. Everyone was.” Kelly felt like anyone would feel in that situation: new place, new people, far from home. “But once we were there, it wasn’t so scary. We just felt independent.” Kelly grew more confident because the college made her feel that way. “School there isn’t like school here. Here everyone’s telling you to go to class, do this, do that. At Augustana, they had high expectations for us.”

Going away posed challenges for Kelly, who has two jobs and takes care of her sisters when her mom is working. “But my mom told me, ‘When I was your age, I didn’t have the opportunities you have, so I want you to fulfill what you want to do, and I want you to be able to have those opportunities, and I’m not just going to let you throw them away!’”

Pictured above are Michelle, Ricky, and Kelly- along with KeOne Carter, North Chicago's Warhawk Summer Up! coordinator. For more information, email KeOne at, or visit



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