The Institute's Jr NeuroExplorer Team: Neuroscience of the Senses
Many students have learned to identify and explore their five senses in science class. They may also have been introduced to habitats and the needs of living organisms. Senses are fundamental to an organism’s ability to meet its needs. In Grade K-I, The Innovation Institute’s curriculum focuses on the Science of the Senses, in particular the neuroscience of the senses.
The academic year-long curriculum focuses on the unifying concepts of change and systems. It begins with fundamental questions about the science of the five senses (neuroscience). It also delves into the senses through the physical sciences, investigating sound, optics and electricity. It is full of hands-on experiments and activities that make learning engaging and inspirational. Students cover content in human biology including neurosciences and anatomy, electrical engineering and acoustical engineering.
Students become the Innovation Institute’s “NeuroExplorer” team, investigating questions such as:
- What are the key characteristics of the brain and nervous system?
- How does the nervous system work?
- What are neurons?
- How are the ears and eyes connected to the nervous system?
- What are the key characteristics of the ear and eye, and how do they function?
- What happens when one of the sensory organs becomes impaired?
- What does electricity have to do with the nervous system?
The “Neuro Explorers” set off for a carefully integrated scientific investigation of the senses, with anatomical explorations of the ear and eye then face a few design challenges, including how to design a device that improves hearing.
To reinforce the applicability of the overarching concept of system (as a non-discipline-specific entree into higher order thinking), students explore electricity and basic concepts in electrical engineering. They undertake an engineering design challenge that reinforces their understanding of the nervous system while helping them to solve a perennial problem—property theft! Students also examine recent innovations in electrical circuitry, including conductive fibers and other media, while producing artwork.
The Innovation Institute's team engages area research institutions and industries to help our students understand how and why real people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to the topics covered in this grade's curriculum.
Learning entry points include the use of story telling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.