Spring SAVY 2022 – Biology of the Brain for 3rd/4th Grade (Allison)
We had a great day in Biology of the Brain!
Our study of the brain started small with the study of neurons. Students created a model neuron as they learned the role of the axon, dendrites, myelin sheath, axon terminals, and synapses. Then we studied neurological response to stimuli. Students took on the roles of sensory neurons, brains, and motor neurons to act out responses to stimuli. It was entertaining to watch students perform and listen to the other children guess the stimulus!
After a motor neuron brain break, students studied current neuroscience research published in December 2021 (rewritten in child-friendly terminology). Researchers studied activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus to study the empathetic response during different types of play. The study considered both solo play and joint play during two different activities: pretend play with dolls and playing with an iPad. Ask your child which play scenario produced the highest level of pSTS activity. The result may surprise you!
In the afternoon students participated in the “Sensory Winter Olympics.” Teams of three rotated between four stations: depth perception, sound localization, visual/auditory memory, and perception of temperature. At each station, students completed a lab and recorded data. Teams worked together to compile data and synthesize it into graphs. Students identified commonalities and differences in data between groups.
Our final activity was a demonstration of the importance of cerebral spinal fluid to protect the brain. An egg in a container filled with water survived vigorous shaking, while the egg without fluid broke soon after shaking began. We had a discussion about additional measures to protect our brain, specifically bicycle helmets.
The students asked excellent questions throughout the day! They participated eagerly and interacted positively with their peers. The activities were designed to heighten their awareness of the brain’s role in daily activities. To extend learning, you could ask your child to explain the neurological responses to stimuli they experience. We focused on sensory neurons and motor neurons. Your child may want to conduct their own research on interneurons to continue their study of the brain!