With the help of LPIE Science instructors, 7th graders at Stanley Middle School are getting a very in-depth look this year at the inner workings of the brain.
LPIE instructors Joanne Layshock and Pat McDonald recently led a lab for Amanda Kush’s 7th grade science class through the study of a sheep’s brain, which is very similar to a human brain in its structure.
Different than a dissection, a brain study is where the students have a sample of half of an actual sheep’s brain and work in pairs to label its parts. The brain study is taught to all 7th graders this year and will be part of the 6th grade curriculum next year because of changes to the Science standards, said LPIE instructor Joanne Layshock.
The LPIE presentation came at a good time for the class since they were wrapping up their study of the brain unit and getting ready for a test at the end of the week, said Ms. Kush.
“It kind of solidifies everything they’ve learned,” she said.
Before diving into their activity, instructor Pat McDonald reviewed the parts of the brain with the students and asked them to talk about what body functions the different areas controlled.
When talking about the pituitary, for example, she mentioned how this area controls the body’s growth and is working overtime in middle school students. She pointed out the cerebellum, which controls coordination and motor activity, and theorized that Golden State Warriors’ superstar Stephen Curry probably has a very “well-developed” one.
After the lecture, it was time to get to work. Armed with protective glasses and gloves, the students worked in pairs to identify the areas of the brain they learned about in class with labeled pins that they stuck into the specimen.
For the most part, the students worked eagerly and were able to identify the parts of the sheep’s brain correctly.
“It’s really cool that we actually get to learn where things are instead of just looking at a picture,” said 7th grader R.C. Means. “It helps me understand it because it’s a real life experience.”
But not everyone was a fan. Two students who were too squeamish for the activity instead got a foam replica of the brain where they could still spot the different areas they were learning about.
Ms. Kush said the hands-on opportunity that the LPIE lesson provided her students was an invaluable way for her class to deepen their understanding of the subject.
“Doing this activity and seeing the whole body is huge because they can see how perfect the body structure is,” said Kush.