Got Brains: What do our brains do?
This unit is intended to engage students with understanding how their brains work. As a start, they investigate how brains are put together by dissecting a sheep’s brain. Then they investigate firsthand not only how their brains sense their environment, but also how their brains can be fooled into creating sensory illusions. This unit concludes with a lesson in which students explore how many moving parts that make up their brains need to work together to control complex behaviors, such as language.
How can we study our brains?
This lesson is intended to engage the students with this module on neurological disorders, as well as address the larger question: Why should we care about studying our brains? The lesson captures student interest by using Socratic discussion and short videos to investigate how scientists have studied the human brain and its functions throughout history.
|– Students will be able to describe how scientists have studied the brain throughout history.
– Students will be able to explain that we can study the brain by studying cases of injury or disease, as well as studying how the brain behaves in everyday life.
|Socratic discussion with short videos
– Homework worksheet
|Worksheet: Brain areas
How does brain structure impact its function?
This lesson is intended as a hands-on ‘engage’ to start students thinking spatially about how the brain is organized into systems that control our behaviors. Students will be given a sheep’s brain that they will dissect to identify the main structures that underlie the behaviors we will investigate throughout this module. In this class they will begin to examine how understanding where functional areas are located relative to each other enables us to diagnose where damage has occurred.
|– Students will be able to identify the location of the main structures of the brain.
– Students will be able to name a function for the main structures of the brain.
|Sheep brain dissection
– Dissection worksheet
– Dissection picture guide
– Homework worksheet
– Sheep Brains
– Dissecting kits
|Worksheet: Case study
How can we study the behaving brain?
This lesson emphasizes that many different tools are needed to study the brain because no one tool can give a complete picture of how the different areas of the brain participate in controlling behavior. Students will begin by working together on a case study designed to show the limitations of classical approaches to looking inside the brain. Then the students complete a jigsaw activity in which they evaluate different approaches that can be used to study the behaving brain, relating them back to the original case study.
|– Students will be able to describe the techniques (including PET, fMRI and EEG) used to examine the behaving brain.
– Students will be able to name benefits and drawbacks of each technique
|Jigsaw on methods to examine the behaving brain.
– Jigsaw readings
– Jigsaw worksheet
– HW worksheet
|Complete lab worksheets.
How do our brains interpret the environment?
This lesson is intended to demonstrate some of the many tasks our brains do every day, including processing, interpreting and filtering sensory stimuli. Students participate in a sensation and perception station lab to experience firsthand how the brain not only senses our environment, but also how the sensations can be changed to create sensory illusions.
|– Students will be able to describe the difference between sensation and perception.
– Students will be able to name and locate the parts of the brain responsible for the five senses.
|Sensation and Perception Station Lab
– Perception lab worksheet
– Perception Station Lab printouts
– For Perception Station Lab
|– Complete sensation and perception lab worksheet.
– Read explanations online of why and how the illusions were able to trick our brains.
How do the parts of my brain work together?
This lesson is intended to emphasize the need of the structures of the brain to work together to create and control behaviors, like the creation and comprehension of language. Students begin the lesson by properly ordering cards that describe the neural steps required to read a book aloud to a friend. The lesson continues with a Socratic discussion of those neural steps, and concludes by watching videos of patients with lesions in areas required for language processing.
|– Students will be able to name the functions of Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas.
– Students will be able to explain why different parts of the brain need to work together to create and control behavior, specifically the creation and comprehension of language.
|Card sort to order neural steps to read “Cat in the Hat”.
– Do Now cards
– Homework worksheet
|Worksheet: Diagnose patients with Broca’s, Wernicke’s and Conduction Aphasia based on short scripts.
Teacher Prep: Unit 1 Lesson Overview Videos
In the YouTube embed below, click the order listing in the upper right to toggle the display for the full playlist.