Big Idea: Neuroscience

With the growth of brain imaging technologies and techniques the amount we know about how the brain works are expanding rapidly. The study of brain plasticity is demonstrating that there are things we can do at every stage of life to improve the way we think and live. Ultimately this new research provides the opportunity for everyone to understand their brain and enrich their lives. The excitement about brain research also gives rise to the possibility of fads and programs not backed by science. The need to critically think through and apply the emerging concepts of neuroscience and the ideas of brain-based learning make neuroscience a fertile Big Idea and provide opportunities for a compelling set of challenges for all ages.

The example challenge of “Master Your Brain” provides a starting point for investigating the field of neuroscience and then work to apply this knowledge to improve our lives. Explore this challenge or create another based on your brain based interests. The challenge provides the opportunity for cross-curriculum investigation and the exploration of social and professional skills and habits that lead to success. In the end, the more we understand how and why we think and act the better off we will be.

ENGAGE

Big Idea: Neuroscience
Essential Question: How do we learn more about our brains and use this knowledge to live better?
Challenge: Master your brain!

Sample Guiding Questions

These are only example questions we encourage you to ask as many personal and contextual questions as possible.

  1. What a brain?
  2. How do brains work?
  3. What is mastery?
  4. Why is it important?
  5. What is neuroscience?
  6. What can I do to improve my thinking?
  7. What is brain plasticity?
  8. Is it possible to rewire the brain?
  9. What does research say about training my brain?
  10. What does it mean to be smart, intelligent, mindful?
  11. What roles do habits, and rituals play in mastering my brain?
  12. What does it mean to be mindful and reflective?
  13. How is my brain different than other people’s brains and other mammal brains?
  14. Are there really left and right brained people?
  15. Etc.

*Once you brainstorm all of the questions organize and prioritize them.

INVESTIGATE

Guiding Activities and Resources
These are only a set of example activities and resources and the learners will need to evaluate the quality of the content. They are not verified or necessarily supported, just examples. The ones that you choose should be in direct relationship to your specific guiding questions and context. Activities and resources for adults, adolescents, and younger children will be different. The goal is to develop solutions that mean something in your community and are sustainable.

Example Activities

  1. Define the terms of the challenge (master and brain)
  2. Learn the science of the brain
  3. Explore the history of brain research
  4. Try some neuroscience experiments(resources below) and report the results
  5. Jigsaw the collection of Neuroscience Ted Talks and report out
  6. Speak with a neuroscientist – the society for Neuroscience has programs to connect with someone in your area.
  7. Compare brains across different species of mammals
  8. Participate in Brain Awareness Week
  9. Etc.

Example Resources

  1. A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of neuroscience.
  2. Brain Awareness Week
  3. The Brain Museum
  4. The Brain from Top to Bottom
  5. brainfacts.org
  6. Find a Neuroscientist
  7. How your brain works
  8. BrainU – Neuroscience for teachers and their students
  9. Neuroscience – Life Sciences Learning Center
  10. Neuroscience and the Classroom: Making Connections
  11. Eyewire – A game to map the Brain
  12. Neuroscience for Kids
  13. Etc.

Synthesis

Using the research findings from your Investigations develop a synthesis that demonstrates a clear understanding of the challenge. For help with creating a synthesis explore this resource.

ACT

Solution Prototypes – Using your research synthesis create multiple ideas for solutions and review each one to make sure your research supports it. Share the prototypes with various stakeholders and get feedback.

Solution – with the feedback from the stakeholders develop one solution that has the most potential for success.

Implement – Develop a plan to implement the solution with the stakeholders and collect data about the impact.

Evaluate – Using quantitative and qualitative measures determine if the solution is valid and what can be improved.

REFLECT, DOCUMENT, AND SHARE

Throughout the experience take time to document the events and reflect on what is happening to build on prior knowledge and identify future questions.

Share what you learned with your local community and the world. Use #CBLWorld on social media.