Students communicate with the future


What would you place in a time capsule that would be re-opened 75 years from now in the year 2084? In celebration of its 75th Anniversary, The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), is holding an exciting, city-wide contest that gives students in grades 5 and 6 a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only answer this question and showcase their creative ideas, but to become a part of Montreal’s scientific and historic legacy.

The Neuro is celebrating the 75th year since it was founded by Dr. Wilder Penfield. As an internationally renowned leader in patient care and outstanding research in neuroscience, this is a momentous occasion for Montrealers, Quebecers, Canadians, and individuals worldwide to celebrate 75 years of important discoveries and advancements in the area of neuroscience.

Before The Neuro opened its doors in 1934, a tradition began: The Laying of the Cornerstone. On October 6, 1933, Dr. Penfield, colleagues and government dignitaries, laid The Neuro’s first cornerstone – a hollow stone containing a time capsule of souvenirs from 1933. Exactly 75 years to the day, on October 6, 2008, the cornerstone was re-opened, the time capsule unlocked, and the contents revealed which included; newspaper clippings from La Presse, The Gazette, a McGill Yearbook and a collection of official documents from the City of Montreal and McGill University from 1933. In keeping with this central tradition, The Neuro will re-insert the time capsule into the cornerstone with new souvenirs from 2009 to be reopened on October 6, 2084.

“As part of the 75th Anniversary, The Neuro is hoping to engage the next generation of scientists and historians to join in the celebrations,” says Katie Kostiuk, contest organizer. “We invite any thoughtful and interesting idea that reflects the history of neuroscience and technology, the history of Montreal and of The Neuro. It can be anything – the more inventive the idea, the better.”

Working with their teachers in classrooms across Montreal, 5th and 6th grade classes are invited to submit their idea, with a brief description explaining why they think their suggestion should go into the time capsule. The hope is that students will develop a deeper appreciation for the brain and neuroscience and will learn more about the rich history of Montreal, and of a world-renowned Institute in the heart of their city.

Some example of ideas for contents to be inserted into the time capsule include: a USB stick or DVD with newspaper articles on some of the advances made by researchers at the Neuro, ipod with Penfield’s Historica Minute, plant seeds, an artist’s rendition of what the Neuro would look like in 75 years from now, and neurosurgical tools used in today’s surgeries of the brain.

In addition to having their winning suggestion inserted into the time capsule for the next 75 years, representatives from the winning class will take part in history, joining everyone at the Neuro in putting together the final contents of the time capsule. Prizes benefiting the science and history programs at the wining school will also be offered.  

The contest, sponsored by Kamik, is in-line with the provincial Ministry of Education’s cross-curricular approach, which encourages students to explore new combinations of ideas, and to imagine different approaches to this task by drawing on various sources, as well as attitudes of open-mindedness, curiosity, intellectual rigour, creativity and clarity in their thought and communication.


The MNI is a McGill University research and teaching institute, dedicated to the study of the nervous system and neurological diseases. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, the MNI is one of the world's largest institutes of its kind. MNI researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. The MNI, with its clinical partner, the Montreal Neurological Hospital (MNH), part of the McGill University Health Centre, continues to integrate research, patient care and training, and is recognized as one of the premier neuroscience centres in the world. At the MNI, we believe in investing in the faculty, staff and students who conduct outstanding research, provide advanced, compassionate care of patients and who pave the way for the next generation of medical advances. Highly talented, motivated people are the engine that drives research - the key to progress in medical care. A new building, the North Wing Expansion, is currently under construction and will house state-of-the-art brain imaging facilities. Once the construction is completed and the new building is fully equipped, the scientific community focused on brain imaging research at the MNI will be without equivalent anywhere in the world.


Contact Information

Anita Kar
Montreal Neurological Institute
anita.kar [at]
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-3376