Classroom Programs

Ask Max!

Empowering Tomorrow’s Innovators

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) proudly introduces “Ask Max” a new mobile education initiative designed to bridge the gap between classroom science and real-world scientific inquiry. Through this program, we aim to ignite a passion for neuroscience among K-12 students in our community.

Why ‘Ask Max’?

Our custom-outfitted van, affectionately known as “Ask Max”, brings vibrant, hands-on neuroscience activities right to YOU. Led by experts, these sessions not only teach but inspire, showing science as a playground of curiosity. “Ask Max” is equipped with high-quality scientific tools like dissection microscopes and gel electrophoresis kits, ensuring a stimulating educational experience right at your doorstep.

Our Impact

In the last year alone, our educational outreach reached more than 9,000 students and community members, with a significant focus on underserved schools. By bringing “Ask Max” to you, we aim to inspire even more young minds, especially those in areas with interest in or limited access to high-quality STEM resources.

As part of the Max Planck Society, the #1 Biomedical Non-profit in the world, the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience brings unparalleled scientific expertise and a history of effective community engagement. Programs are approved by the Palm Beach County School District.

The “Ask Max” van was generously donated by The Stiles Nicholson Foundation and the J&S Pew Family Foundation.

Support STEM Education Programs at Max Planck Florida

How to Book

Contact us to schedule a visit and be part of this exciting scientific journey.

Booking

Grade Specific Lesson Plans

K-2:

  • Cortex Cap Coloring: A craft where students learn the parts of the brain and their functions. We will walk step by step through the brain while coloring each lobe, then assemble their work into a hat they can wear to show off their cortex!
  • Brain Cell Builders: A craft where students learn about the brain and the tiny cells that pass messages throughout their brain and body. Students will use pipe cleaners to build a neuron model and work together to create a neural network and pass a message through the classroom.

 

3-5:

  • Brain Handling: Students will learn about brain structures using an actual sheep brain! Students will have the opportunity to wear gloves and hold a brain, then observe a dissection and compare the sheep brain to a human brain model.
  • Microscopic Models: MPFI will bring our mobile microscopes to give students a chance to observe the microscopic world. Students will learn how to use a stereoscope to view different phenotypes in the model organism Drosophila Melanogaster. They will be able to focus, calculate magnification, and accurately convey their observations after the lesson.
  • Strawberry DNA Extraction: Students learn about the molecule of life, DNA! Students take part in an experiment led by a neuroscientist that unlocks the DNA from strawberry cells and makes it visible to the naked eye!

6-8:

  • Brain Dissection: Students will learn about brain structures using an actual sheep brain! Students will be divided into small groups and have the opportunity to wear gloves and participate in a guided dissection and compare the sheep brain to a human brain model.
  • Genetics and Model Organisms: Students will learn about the need for model organisms in research. They will learn about the most common research models and then take a deep dive on Drosophila Melanogaster – the Fruit Fly. Students will learn how to use a stereoscope to view different phenotypes in fruit flies. They will use how to use punnet squares to show the pattern of inheritance of the traits viewed. They will also learn how basic research can lead to applied research in the technique of optogenetics.
  • Cheek Cell DNA Extraction: Students learn about the molecule of life, DNA! Students take part in an experiment led by a neuroscientist that unlocks the DNA from their very own cheek cells and makes it visible to the naked eye!
  • Neurons and Networks: Students will learn the anatomy of a neuron—a brain cell—the principal player in the nervous system. They will also learn how neurons communicate with one another to send messages throughout the body using electrical signaling. Finally, students will learn the pros and cons of using models in science.

9-12:

  • Brain Dissection: Students will learn about brain structures using an actual sheep brain! Students will be divided into small groups and have the opportunity to wear gloves and participate in a guided dissection and compare the sheep brain to a human brain model.
  • Genetics and Model Organisms: Students will learn about the need for model organisms in research. They will learn about the most common research models and then take a deep dive on Drosophila Melanogaster – the Fruit Fly. Students will learn how to use a stereoscope to view different phenotypes in fruit flies. They will use how to use punnet squares to show the pattern of inheritance of the traits viewed. They will also learn how basic research can lead to applied research in the technique of optogenetics.
  • Microscopy: Students will learn the basics of optics and fluorescence. They will learn the different types of microscopes used in research and the different needs they fill. Students will have the chance to observe samples using a stereoscope and a fluorescence microscope. They will be able to focus, calculate magnification, and accurately convey their observations after the lesson.

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