Brain Science Curriculum (Grades 5 & 6)
||These lesson plans, for fifth- and sixth-grade students, provide innovative learning experiences that will build students' understanding of how the brain works and how brain functioning relates to behavior.Utilize these lessons in your science class to help students recognize the connections between life and the classroom.
- Lesson One: Geography of the Brain
Students will learn/review the three major parts of the human brain, the hemispheres of the brain, where the brain is located, and its size, color, texture and weight.
- Lesson Two: Getting the Message
Students will be introduced to neurons: what they are, what they look like, their basic parts, and the "job" (function) of each part. Using information and materials, students will build a neuron of their choice.
- Lesson Four: Your Information Highway: How Motor Neurons Talk to Muscles
After reviewing the lesson where the students made neuron models and labeled the main parts (dendrites, cell body, axon and myelin), students will be able to visualize and understand how neurons send messages from the brain to the spinal cord, to synapse, to motor neurons, which connect to muscles and make them move. This is how the nervous system communicates: "messages" in the form of electrical and chemical signals.
- Lesson Two: Our Senses & the Environment
Students will explore how our senses respond to information from the environment. Students will see that our brain plays a major role in helping our senses to function (respond). By examining the human reaction to light and various smells (stimuli), students will see that their senses are responding to information presented by the environment.
- Lesson Four: To Think or Not to Think... Our Actions and Responses (Stroop Effect)
Students will participate in the "Stroop Test," a well-known scientific activity, that can help them become more aware of their responses. They will see that some of their responses take place without any thought or concentration, while others require them to think or choose to do them. With this awareness, students will begin to understand the difference between reflexes and deliberate actions.
- Lesson One: Cells, Cells, and More Cells
Students will be introduced to two different types of cells: plant cells and animal cells. They will review the specialized animal cell called a neuron. Although there are many other types of cells, this lesson focuses only on these three. Students will learn that each cell has parts that are unique to it, but all cells have parts in common.
- Lesson One: Simple Robots
Our bodies have many complex, highly interconnected bioelectrical circuits, which allow us to sense and react to changes in the environment -- thus allowing us to behave as we do. Students will observe the behavior of simple robots and then study a highly simplified sensing circuit in order to analyze its operations.
- Extension Activities: Why We See the Way We Do
These extensions will show students that the brain, not the eyes, is responsible for our ability to see depth. Students will understand that each eye sees a different view and that the brain combines these two views to give us a clear and precise understanding of our surroundings. These two views travel along two "neural circuits," one from the right eye to the brain and the other from the left eye to the brain. Both of these circuits are required to see "binocular" depth.
Brain Science Curriculum
Grades 3 and 4
Brain Science Curriculum
Grades 5 and 6
Scientists at the Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School in Waltham, Massachusetts, in collaboration with local elementary school educators and administrators have developed a neurobehavioral science education curriculum for use with children in grades 3-6. The Scientist Teacher Education Partnership Program (STEPP) began in 1998 through a grant funded by the Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) program of the Division of Clinical Research of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR/NIH).
The goal of the STEPP project is to enhance science literacy by providing elementary and middle school students with innovative learning experiences that will establish the foundation for broad, socially connected understanding of how the brain works and how brain functioning relates to behavior. In designing the curriculum we have taken advantage of the environment and resources of the Shriver Center, a center of interdisciplinary scientific research training, and clinical service.
Funding provided by NIH-NCRR, Grant # 1R25RR13433, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School and private donors.
© Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2005.
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