Category: Service through STEM
Nominator: Parul Aggarwal
What was their service?
Siddhant has committed himself to educating students about the brain. In 2019, he created The Brain Bunch, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to teach students in grades 2-8 about neuroscience. With his activity-based curriculum that he built from scratch, Siddhant has inspired scientific curiosity amongst 1000+ children from the inner cities of Newark, Union, Elizabeth, and more. He has partnered with schools and libraries to host free neuroscience programs. Furthermore, he has extended his initiative to students in Nigeria. Now, during COVID-19, he works with 15 ambassadors nationally to establish virtual educational programs and sponsor educational materials for families impacted financially.
What motivated them to serve/volunteer?
Siddhant discovered his passion for the brain in his high school’s neuroscience club. Playing with concepts like neuroplasticity, he strived to share his curiosity with others. As president, he expanded the club’s mission to outreach, and developed skills for connecting with young students. In the summer of 2019, he worked in a research lab at New Jersey Medical School in Newark. Many of his peers were from underrepresented backgrounds, and he discovered that their schools afforded them few opportunities in STEM. Thus, Siddhant committed himself to initiating neuroscience interventions, bridging the gap to students in inner cities.
What did they achieve/how did they make a difference?
Siddhant has hosted 29 neuroscience outreach events throughout New Jersey with many more planned. In 2019, he partnered with TechQuest (a Nigerian STEM nonprofit) to conduct a webinar reaching 127 students in Nigeria, Canada, Britain, and other nations. Furthermore, he has recruited 15 high school ambassadors across the nation sharing his goals. Together, they have reached 1030+ students in 57 sessions. 93% of students leave the programs wanting to return in the future. In fact, some participants became inspired to further explore the brain after attending, so they joined the Brain Bunch as neuroscience blog writers. Their contributions are posted on the Brain Bunch website: https://www.thebrainbunch.com/ Siddhant won $2500+ from the New Jersey STEM Pathways and DANA Foundation grants to fund his organization. Additionally, his actions have received media coverage in Yahoo, Patch, TapInto, and The Bernardsville News. Not only does Siddhant host neuroscience programs, but he has also been supporting the families through COVID-19 through The Brain Bunch. He has launched the “Bunch of Good” initiative to provide laptops and food for children in families suffering economically and educationally due to a lack of technology and food. He has already begun working with Weequahic Branch library to support the Newark community. Outside of the Brain Bunch, Siddhant also performed a collection project of unused PPE materials during COVID-19 for nursing homes in Elizabeth, NJ. Through his work, not only has Siddhant sparked scientific curiosity within children from diverse backgrounds, but he also supported the New Jersey community during COVID-19.