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Spring SAVY 2013 Week 4: Brain Blast – Section 3 (Instructor: Jacquelynn Brown)

Posted by on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in SAVY blog.

Spring SAVY 2013 Week 4: Brain Blast – Section 3 (Instructor: Jacquelynn Brown)

Brown Lab Week 4 Blog

Wow! What a whirlwind of fun activities we had this week. As promised we had our senses fair so it was a different set up than usual. As you may have noticed we were in different rooms right there in Wyatt, but the kids also rotated through 6 different sessions: Eye, Touch, Memory, Optical Illusions, Reflexes, and Fine Motor Control. Each teaching team taught 2 of the sessions (one in each half) so all the kids got to spend time with the teachers from the other 2 Brain Blast classes as well. So make sure to checkout the blogs for the other two classes as well. I taught the Touch and Reflexes sections and we had a blast!

In Touch the kids learned how the skin, our largest organ, contains different kinds of receptors that each sense different stimuli (heat, pressure, vibration, etc) and that all the information from the different receptors are sent back combined and mapped on the somatosensory cortex strip in the brain. We then had several experiments we did to explore touch. In them we saw how active touch (moving your hands over an object) gathers more information and makes it easier to identify objects as they tried to guess the shapes of cookie cutters with and without moving their hands. They also saw how sensitive the hands are due to the high density of receptors there as they were able to sort sand paper in order of roughness. They also got to identify objects in a Bag of Science and see how much harder that is with gloves on that make it harder for receptors to gather information. Another touch activity you could do at home demonstrates what we learned about some parts having higher density of receptors and thus are more sensitive to touch. Take several different objects (preferably of different textures) and blindfold the one guessing. Touch the object to different body parts (back of neck, leg, elbow, hand, face, etc) and see if they can guess what it is. Discuss which areas were easier or harder to use for guessing and why.

The unit I did in the second session was Reflexes and we learned about both protective automatic reflexes such as blinking and the patellar tendon reflex and voluntary reflexes (or more appropriately reactions). We measured how quick our reaction times were by catching a falling ruler, and discovered that even though some of us had “cat like reflexes” they were still slower than automatic reflexes such as the patellar tendon reflex which can take less than 50 milliseconds. We discussed how it is so fast (this reflex doesn’t even need to travel all the way to the brain but gets a signal back from the spinal cord) and why it is so fast (because our reflexes are meant to protect us faster than we can even process the danger).

Be sure to prepare your child for more excitement next Saturday as they’ll work in groups to design their own version of an experiment that they’ll then perform to generate data for the poster they will present in our scientific meeting. Also be sure to go ahead and mark your calendar to be there for the scientific meeting on March 16th. I’m sure they will all be very excited to show off all they will have done.

-Mrs. Brown