By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Philadelphia high schoolers have a better understanding of what it takes to try to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, after a tour of the research labs today at the University of Pennsylvania.

Students from the Mastery-Shoemaker charter school, along with their mentors from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, toured the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at Penn’s medical school.  They peered at slides of mouse brain cells, and even got to hold a human brain.

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ CEO Marlene Olshan says it gives the kids an opportunity to see science outside the textbooks, “the fact that they can actually see what it’s like to be a scientist and not just hear the word, and understand and visit the lab and different components of the lab,” she said.

“I learned how the brain works and how you can compare a brain that doesn’t have the disease to a brain that does have the disease,” said sophomore Caprisha Davis, who wants to be a heart surgeon someday.

Caprisha appreciated the chance to hold a brain.  She said it felt like macaroni.

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