SAVY 2019: Session 6, Day 1 – Biology of the Brain (Rising 3rd/4th)
Today was a full first day in our Biology of the Brain classroom! We have 16 very motivated students who came to PTY excited to learn, discuss, and discover more about the brain—we’re lucky, because this is exactly what makes an excellent classroom environment! We began the day with introductions and an opportunity for each student to share two fun facts about themselves—we discovered our class has an affinity for pets (dogs, cats, frogs, and more!), playing chess, and reading. We then progressed to having students self-identify their learning goals for the week (both broad and specific), as well as complete concepts maps to illustrate the foundational knowledge they already possess. Our classroom posited some excellent questions that we’re curious to learn answers for, such as: What part of your brain helps you balance? How does your brain react to illness? What is the role of the pre-frontal cortex? We will explore these questions (and others) throughout the week.
After learning more about the scientific method, the importance of using Lab Journals to record our research observations and thoughts, and watching a short video that introduced the Nervous System, we moved into our big project for the day—learning about the central role neurons play in the brain. Students brainstormed different examples of how neurons are related to our five primary senses, and then reinforced their understanding by sculpting a neuron from modeling clay. Each color represented a different core part of the neuron structure (i.e., dendrites, axon terminal, cell body), and this also proved to be a great opportunity for each student to let their creativity shine through—no two neurons look quite the same! As our final class project will be creating a Biology of the Brain Podcast, I encouraged students to explore an example of one or two podcasts this evening… either one they’re already familiar with, or to work with parents to find a new one of interest. Brains On! by NPR is an excellent example that features digestible science for kids (https://www.npr.org/podcasts/414697070/brains-on).
Looking forward to another fun and productive day tomorrow!