NeuroScience of the senses

The Innovation Institute’s neuroscience curriculum actively engages younger students  by having them learn about the brain and nervous system through many labs and activities. This basic but powerful understanding empowers students to be in charge of their learning--with current understanding of why and under what conditions the brain encodes most deeply.

The curriculum begins with an exploration of the brain as the body's control center and fundamental questions about the relationship of the five senses to the brain and nervous system. Students experience and investigate why our senses often deceive us--in addition to optical illusions, we experience auditory, olfactory, tactile and gustatory illusions on a daily basis.

Students investigate questions including: 

  • How does the brain develop over time?
  • How do barn owls and bats visualize their prey, and in what ways does this differ from human 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?

The course extends beyond the senses to explore brain anatomy and development, memory, learning, sleep and basic brain chemistry. Comparisons are drawn between insects, birds, fish and other animals.

Site visits and visiting specialists! 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 storytelling, fiction and nonfiction literature and art.