Neuroscience Concepts & Activities by Grade Level: Middle School, Grades 7 - 8

The scaffolding of these concepts does not follow any particular published set of standards. They come from Dr. Janet Dubinsky's experience in the BrainU, Brain Awareness Week, and Brain Bee programs. Some text taken from the Neuroscience Core Concepts, Society for Neuroscience

Concept Activity/Resource
The neuron is a cell in the nervous system with specialized parts: dendrites as inputs, axons as outputs. Beady Neurons with throw down Virtual Neurons
Information goes from one neuron to the next neuron at synapses where the electrical information coming down the axon changes to chemical information to cross the gap between them. Then dendrites of the next neuron taste the chemicals and turn the information back into electrical information. Neuronal cell bodies add up all incoming information (excitatory and inhibitory) to determine if a message is passed on to the next neuron. Connect the Neurons

Synapses animation
The electrical information going from the dendrites to the cell body and then the axon is consistent. The chemical information crossing synapses can be variable. Synapses can change and get stronger with learning or weaker if not used. As we learn, we strengthen the chemical connections between neurons so they learn to work together to produce the behaviors we want. Synapses Change animation

Altered reality experiment
Our senses change energy coming from the environment (light, sound waves, chemicals in gases or food, heat or touch/pressure) into electrical signals in the nerves that go into the brain and spinal cord. This information is processed in distinct parts of the brain where we form perceptions of the stimuli. Sensory experiential stations, optical & sensory illusions

Blind Spot

Balance, the Ears Have It

Welcome to your Senses

Phantom Limb
As we learn complicated motor skills (as in sports, dance, etc), the muscle memory that develops is really the brain learning how to control many muscles simultaneously. For these motions to become routine, the brain circuits controlling movement change from ones used for deciding what to do, to circuits used for habits. Motor experiential stations

Altered Reality

Motor Learning and Memory

Mirror Image
Sensory information from our muscles (proprioception) tells our brain what our muscles are doing and guides our movements. Altered Reality
All perceptions, thoughts, and behaviors result from combinations of signals among neurons. Different parts of the brain are specialized for processing sensory information, integrating information, deciding, recognizing emotions, planning, orienting and navigating, analyzing, producing language and speech and controlling muscles. Sheep Brain Dissection

Manduca Sexta Dissection

Whose Choice Is It Anyway?

Memory Items

Your Incredible Memory
Humans have a complex nervous system that evolved from a simpler one. The nervous systems of all animals function in comparable ways. Sheep Brain Dissection

Manduca Sexta Dissection

Backyard Brains activities

Synapses Change animation

Neuroscience Concepts & Activities - Grade Pre-3   4-6   9-12