The Nervous System

During this presentation, you will go to 4 different "stations". At each station, there will be something for you to do. Follow the instructions on this handout to guide you through the activities at each station. Also, use these pages to write down your data and keep notes. The words that are underlined are new vocabulary words - if you don't know what they mean, ASK! Also, don't forget that for more information on the nervous system you can always visit "Neuroscience for Kids" on the Internet:

Station 1: Nervous System Kid

As a group, make a drawing of the entire nervous system and sense organs. Have one person in your group lie down on a piece of large paper. Draw an outline around his or her entire body. Fill in the outline with as much detail of the nervous system as possible - the brain, spinal cord, gyri, sulci, nerves, lobes of the brain, etc. Use colors, label everything - let's see which group has the most colorful model; the most accurate; the most labels.

Station 2: Brain and Neuron Models

A) The brain is made up of 86 billion nerve cells called neurons. Each neuron has 4 basic parts - the cell body, dendrites, the axon and the axon terminal. Use clay to make a model of a neuron and show each part of the neuron. Also have a look under the microscope at some real brain tissue. Draw what you see.
B) The outermost part of the brain is called the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex can be divided into 4 different lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe. Use clay to make a model of the brain. Find out about the functions of each lobe.

Station 3: The Sensory Station

At this station, you will explore your sense of hearing (audition), sight (vision) and touch (somatosensation).

A) Hearing: The material that pennies are made out of was changed in a certain year. What was this year? To find out, drop the pennies one-by-one and listen to the sound each penny makes. An old penny has a full "ring" to it. A new penny has a dull "tinny" sound. Keep track of which pennies "ring" and which pennies do not "ring". Write down the year of the last old penny and the first new penny.

Last old penny was the year_________

First new penny was the year________

B) Sight: The blind spot in your eye is an area on the retina without receptors. Therefore any light that falls on this region will NOT be seen. It is in this region that the optic nerves come together and exit the eye on their way to the brain. To demonstrate this draw a small dot in the space below. About 7 inches to the right of this dot, draw a small +. Hold this paper about 20 inches away. Close your left eye. With your right eye, look at the dot. Slowly bring paper closer to your while looking at the dot. At a certain distance, the + will disappear from sight...this is when the + falls on the blind spot of your retina. Reverse the process. Close your right eye and look at the + with your left eye. Move the image slowly closer to you and the dot should disappear.

Draw Blind Spot Tester here--->

C) Touch: Skin on some parts of your body is more sensitive than skin on other parts. This is because "sensory receptors" are found in different densities over the skin surface. Find out how sensitive your skin really is - find out what are in these BRAIN SOCKS by using your sense of touch. Write down your guesses in the spaces below.

Sock A = __________

Sock B = __________

Sock C = __________

Sock D = __________

Station 4a: Brain/Skull Match Up

What are the similarities and differences in the brains and skulls of different animals? First, match these 4 brains with the 4 skulls. Draw a line connecting a letter in the brain column to a number in the skull column. Also, take a guess at what animal the brains and skulls came from.

Brain		Skull		Animal

A		1		______

B		2		______

C		3		______

D		4		______

Next, write down as many similarities and differences you can observe in the brains and skull.











Station 4b: Egghead Needs a Helmet

As you know by now, your brain is important for a many different functions. Therefore, it is important to protect your brain. Pretend that an egg is a head. The egg shell is the skull and the egg white/egg yolk is the brain. Your job is to make a helmet for this "Egghead" using containers and other recyclable material. Later we will drop each Egghead from a height of about 5 feet to see if the helmet you made protected the "brain". ANY design is fair! Be creative!