We have developed a cumulative six-session curriculum that introduces young students to the fundamentals of neuroscience, with an emphasis on the scientific method and what it’s like to be a scientist.  Each hour-long session focuses on a “big question” in neuroscience which the students explore during hands-on experiments and investigations.  Students have the opportunity to use a variety of scientific equipment and even touch a real human brain!

Week 1 – “What does the brain do?”

  • Students will make paper brain models to identify different parts of the brain
  • Students will have the opportunity to observe or touch a human brain
  • Students will explore MRI images of the brain

Week 2 – “How does the brain communicate with the body?”

  • Students will conduct a reaction time experiment
  • Students will map the path of nerve impulses traveling to and from their brains
  • Students will learn and perform the steps of the scientific method

Week 3 – “What is the brain made of?”

  • Students will perform a microscope lab to compare cheek cells and brain cells (neurons)
  • Students will prepare their own slides and learn to use a light microscope

Week 4 – “ How do neurons send their signals?

  • Students will create neuron models out of pipecleaners
  • Students will conduct an experiment using EMGs (electromyograms)

Week 5 – “ How do neurons connect?”

  • Students will play a game to act out neurotransmission
  • Students will conduct an experiment to explore the effects of a “mystery chemical” (caffeine) on the movement of flatworms

Week 6 – “ What’s it really like to be a neuroscientist?”

  • Students will play games to review class content
  • Students will take a “virtual field trip” (video) to see where their scientist visitors work
  • Students will design their own hypothetical experiments and explore cutting-edge research