The Brain: Mission Control

The brain, along with the spine, is part of the central nervous system. It is responsible for our thoughts, speech, memory, voluntary movements, and so much more!

This learning block focuses on the human brain, but be sure to look at the Deeper Dive video on animal brains to see the variety of brains in the animal world!

There are two videos to choose from to learn about the brain.

The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects in the Projects section. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to test your understanding by taking the quiz.

Take A Deeper Dive!

The Human Brain, Operation Ouch (see a real human brain!)

What happens when you remove the hippocampus?

Brain Story (documentary) with Susan Greenfield

Animal Brains: An Overview

Activities

Make a Brain Hat

Watch the video on learning the parts of the brain. 

Download the instructions and printable pattern to make a brain hat. Note, you can download it in several languages from this page. Choose which size you would like to print and whether you prefer to print in colour or greyscale. Now assemble your brain!

Save a picture of your brain hat to your portfolio.

Source: http://ellenjmchenry.com/

Make a Pipe Cleaner Neuron

The brain is made up of two types of cells: neurons and glial cells. Neurons are the brain cells that transmit the electrical signals in the brain. 

To learn about neurons and make your own model, you will need the following items:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads

Follow along with the video to make your own model neuron. 

Save your neuron to your portfolio.

Project

What Protects Your Brain?

Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body. What protects it and keeps it safe? The brain rests inside the skull and is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid. Together they protect the brain and cushion it. 

To do this experiment at home, you will need the following items:

  • A container with a lid
  • A hardboiled egg
  • Water

Watch the video and try the experiment at home. What did you observe? 

Save the results of your experiment by writing your observations in your science notebook and/or video your egg drop.

Advanced Project(s)

Choose at least one.

The brain is such an exciting area of research because there is much that we still don’t understand about it and how it affects all aspects of our lives. Choose one or both of the following projects to explore more about the brain.

Deeper Dive into a Brain Subtopic

Choose one of the following videos to start a deeper dive into a specific topic about the brain. Then do further research using credible sources on the internet, in books, or other sources. Create a poster or slide show (using Google Slides or similar program) to share what you’ve learned.

How does your brain respond to pain?

How sugar affects the brain

The Evolution of the Human Brain

The left brain vs. right brain myth

The Teenage Brain Explained

What if we could look inside human brains?

How can invertebrates think without a central brain?

Save this project to your portfolio.

Reaction Time Lab

Visit Backyard Brains to read about reflexes and reactions and how they are processed by our nervous system. 

With a partner, do Experiments 1 and 2 to test your reaction time to visual, audio, and tactile stimuli. Record your results in a table like the examples shown. 

For this experiment, you will need two metric rulers (with centimetres) to perform these experiments. 

After you have performed the experiments and recorded your results, you can follow the instructions to convert centimetres into seconds to represent your reaction as a time instead of a length. 

How do the response times compare among the different stimuli? What about between you and your partner? 

Read and think about the Science Fair Project ideas at the end of the lab. If one strikes your interest, do some more research and keep diving into the amazing world of the brain!

Save your experimental data and any notes or observations to your portfolio.

Books

Read Aloud Book(s)

The Brain is Kind of a Big Deal Read Aloud

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Read Aloud

NOw Let’s Have some fun!