As TK Grade 5 students, we studied the brain, its parts, how it works and how it adapts to change in the unit “Who we are”. We learnt key facts about the functions of different parts of the brain: the cerebrum that controls our language and intelligence, the cerebellum; our balance and motor skills, and the brainstem; all our involuntary movements like swallowing, breathing, and heart beating.

A series of guest speakers gave presentations about their respective fields in neuroscience. One of our visitors was Dr. Shawn Watson, a neuroscientist, who gave a comprehensive lecture on the effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. He explained how our brain ages, just like our other organs, and how we can make our brain healthier. He introduced the concepts such as damage, repair and toxicity which have major impact on brain ageing.

We enjoyed another visit from the Singapore Parkinson's Society who told us about Parkinson's disease, its symptoms and effects on the brain. We found out why people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from shaky hands, a walk that is shuffled, and slurred speech.

The Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences Neurodevelopment Research Centre brought a team of 12 researchers to share their expertise with us. They set up different stations to show how each different part of the brain functions. We learnt about primary motor cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and the optical and temporal cortex in groups. Each group had an activity to test how good they are using that specific part of the brain.

Towards the end of the unit, we each had to present our learning about a specific disease or disorder that affects the brain, and how it impacts the daily life of the person who has that disease. A few of the topics covered were dyslexia, Alzheimer’s, microcephaly, brain tumor, concussion and stroke. We spent this time improving our research skills with the help of our librarian, Ms Nadine. She taught us how to cite our information and suggested helpful websites with accurate information. She explained how Google and Wikipedia might not provide sufficient answers to all the information we needed and we can access the CIS library guides for helpful, kid-friendly sites, too.

We learnt a lot from all of the speakers and we had a lot of fun in this unit. Overall, the unit was very enriching. If we had a chance, we would want to do it again. We hope the future grade 5 students will enjoy this unit as much as we did.

- See more at: https://www.cis.edu.sg/mosaic/a-neuroscience-myste...
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