Brains studied inside out
For our first Unit of Inquiry in Grade 5, we learnt about the brain and explored our central idea: “the brain’s ability to change and adapt is central to life.” We began the unit with a hands-on provocation involving real sheep brains, where students were given opportunities to ask questions, make connections, and demonstrate any background knowledge they had. Students were instantly intrigued by the shape, feel and similarities of the sheep brains to human brains.
After this very authentic experience, students investigated the structure and function of the brain and investigated a range of brain conditions, birth anomalies, and external factors that affect our brains. Students learnt how to use and care for microscopes during the exploration and viewed animal cells for the first time.
We were fortunate to have a parent volunteer and neurologist, Dr. Sashi Kesavapany, share his expertise in the field towards the end of the unit. He spoke to the students about the essential role the brain plays in controlling our whole body, and discussed diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS. Dr. Kesavapany also conducted a live dissection of a rat brain for us!
As a culmination of learning in this unit, students shared their new understanding at the Grade 5 open house for parents, where they spoke confidently and answered questions from visitors. This unit will definitely be one of the more memorable ones for our students, and was a great way to start a year of learning!