The ABC's of BAF (Brain Anatomy & Function)!

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Objective

Students will use and develop models in order to identify the parts of the human brain and explain its corresponding functions.

Big Idea

Our brain is the computer that runs our body; It has different parts of that function together to execute bodily tasks.

Introduction

Lesson Background & Justification:

        The brain is a highly specialized organ in the body developed for flexible wiring to aid in an organisms ability to survive in various environments. In this lesson, students learn to recognize the locale and function of the brain's anatomical parts in the effort to establish both a visual and contextual foundation needed to comprehend later units which explore these altered brain regions in detail. This lesson, the first of a five lesson unit, specifically sets the stage for students to comprehend the dichotomy of the nervous system and explain the influence of hormones on the brain's capacity to respond to outside stimuli. 

Lesson Preparations:

 In the effort to prepare for this lesson, I make certain that I have the following items in place: 

a) A class set of Sheep Brains (One brain for each pair of students) and dissection pans.

b) A class set of protective wear (non-latex gloves, lab coats and safety glasses)

c) A class set of rulers and scissors.

d) Student lab books.

e) Wooden toothpicks per student pair. 

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

HS-LS4-1: Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence. 

Standards Rationale:

       Modeling is the process by which scientists represent ideas about the natural world to each other, and then collaboratively make changes to these representations over time in response to new evidence and understandings. It is intimately connected to other scientific processes (asking questions, communicating information, etc.) and improves students ability to recall scientific jargon through association. In the classroom, it is important that teachers engage students in modeling practices, to set the foundation of success in a lesson or instructional unit. In this lesson modeling is used in concert with other science practices in the classroom to promote students’ reasoning and understanding of core science idea presented (structure and function of the brain). 

Engage

10 minutes

Section Primer: 

         The Frontal Lobe is one of the four main lobes or regions of the cerebral cortex. They are positioned at the frontmost region of the cerebral cortex and are involved in movement, decision-making, problem solving, and planning. There are three main divisions of the frontal lobes:

Prefrontal Cortex: Responsible for personality expression and the planning of complex cognitive behaviors. 

Premotor and Motor Areas: Control the execution of voluntary muscle movement.

Section Sequence:  In this section of the lesson, my goal is to stimulate students curiosity of events that have led to the development of neuroscience as field of study. Using a combination of video presentation, reading and discussion, I present this activity in the following sequence: 

a) Slide 1: Ask; "What do you think happened to this man?" and engage in classroom discussion. (Some anticipated students responses include: a) He has a genetic disorder, b) He was in an accident that impaired his face or c) He went to war.)

b) Post discussion, issue the Phineas Gage & Neuroscience handout, verbally direct for students to read Part A to collect information on the man on the slide and facilitate reading discussion.

c) Show the following trailer and further discuss events surrounding Phineas Gage's accident.

d) Slide 2: Ask; "How do you think this event influenced the field of neuroscience?", read part B on handout and discuss. (Some anticipated student responses include a) it shows that he can still live without certain parts of his brain and b) damage to certain parts of the brain leads to problems controlled by that part of the brain.)

e) Play the following clip from the 1:00 minute to the 3:30 min mark and discuss why the Phineas Gage case was a ground breaking event to Neuroscience.  

Explore

15 minutes

Section Primer:

        One of the best methods of studying the brain is looking at its structure. And one of the great truths of studying biology is the saying that ‘anatomy precedes physiology.’” In other words, in order to understand how an organ functions, first you have to understand its form. A sheep’s brain is remarkably similar to a human’s, as far as its anatomy goes, and inherently more. This is why students explore sheep brains as selected and comparable models to the human brain in this and proceeding sections of the lesson 

 Section Sequence:

        In this section, my goal is give students an opportunity to become familiarized with & develop meaning for regions of a preserved sheep brain under their own terms. This provides an informal introduction to the brain's anatomy prior to formal terms. This is presented in the following sequence:

a) Slide 3: State "In Gage's time, the anatomy and physiology of the brain was poorly understood. Post Gage, specialists began to invest time to properly label and explain regions of the brain." Ask: "If you were an early neuroscientist of Gage's time, how would you have classified the brain's geography?"

b) Instruct students to put on scientific protective wear and to obtain their dissection pan materials. Once students are suited and have their dissection pans ready, distribute 1 sheep brain to each partner set. Next, give students 10 minutes to explore and develop their own classification systems for the external anatomy of the sheep's brain and instruct for them record their initial ideas of their systems in their lab books. Finally, discuss student discoveries for 3-5 minutes as a class. 

Standards Covered:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

Explain

40 minutes

Section Sequence: In this section of the lesson, my goal is to introduce students to the formal terminology of the brain's anatomy using the sheep's brain as a reference. I present this activity in the following sequence:

a) Slide 4: State; "Let's discover what years of brain research has unveiled to us about brain anatomy and function." Provide students with the brain images to cut and affix into their lab books and instruct for them to label the basic parts presented in the following video as it plays.   

                         

b) Progress to the following video and verbalize to students that they will use the next clip to label the more intricate details and function of the brain. Start and stop for adequate recording as the video progresses. 

                         

c) Now discuss any classification similarities that students may have made between their personal schema and the professionally labeled brain.

Standards Covered:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms. 

Extend

15 minutes

Section Primer:

          Phylogenetics is the evolution of a genetically related group of organisms as distinguished from the development of the individual organism. Primates are a closely related group of organisms that have anatomical features of the brain which aid in their ability process higher level thinking skills comparable to those of humans. Using their knowledge of the brain's anatomy, students learn to construct a phylogenetic tree of primate brains and thus become able to infer the degree of skills possessed by each organism on their trees.

Section Sequence:

         In this section of the lesson, my goal is to get students to utilize the information collected in their explanation activity to explain why some primates have sharper processing skills versus others. I present this activity in the following sequence:

a) Slide 4: Instruct students to create color flag stakes with their toothpicks and colored paper and insert them into the brain areas respective to the legend on the screen.

b) Slides 5-7: Provide students with colored brain circle cut outs in pairs. Explain phylogeny using slide 5 and instruct students to generate a phylogenetic tree with their brain pieces. After 10 minutes, discuss student representations based on form and function before advancing the scientific representation on slide 7. Compare and contrast the student and scientific representations. 

Instructional Note: Print and cut out a class set of all brains represented on the phylogenetic tree as seen on the Brain Evolution Activity pdf.

Standards Covered:

HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

HS-LS4-1: Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence. 

Evaluate

10 minutes

Section Sequence:

       In this section of the lesson, my goal is to get students to think review the form, dichotomy and function of the brain as it applies to a case study. I present this activity in the following sequence:

a) Ask students if they know the anatomical or physiological difference between their brains and remarkable brain of Albert Einstein. Discuss before presenting the following clip:

   

b) Slide 8: Verbalize to students the exit ticket activity of illustrating/sketching the physical differences between the average human brain and Einstein's brain. Explain what the physical differences imply about his capacity versus ours. Students are to submit work prior to leaving.

Standards Covered:

HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.