Grades 3-4, 4-5

Sensation and Perception: Biology of the Brain

How is external information processed? The course begins with the investigation of the sensory organs. We will then study the brain as the processing and integration center of external information. The course will include the exploration of sensation and perception anatomy through dissections including eyes and brains from different animals. 

Neural circuitry, brain chemistry and recent topics in neuroscience research will help us to understand why our senses often deceive us. Illusions of all senses (yes, in addition to optical illusions, we experience auditory, olfactory, tactile and gustatory illusions on a daily basis) will be explored and experienced.

Students investigate questions including: 

  • How do each of the five senses function? Are there more than five?
  • Why do our senses sometimes deceive us?
  • What is the relationship between sensation and perception?
  • How and why are human brains and sensory organs different from other animals?
  • How do I design an experiment to understand the differences in skin neuro-receptor density in the human body? How do I develop a good hypothesis, isolate my variables and collect evidence, so that I can record valid conclusions?
  • What are synapses, and why are some neuroscientists studying them so closely to understand the concept of "brain plasticity"?  What does "brain plasticity" mean, and why do scientists disagree about it?
  • What is "synaptic pruning"?

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 for topics covered in this grade's curriculum.  

Learning entry points include the use of story telling, fiction and non-fiction literature and art.