Comparing the Male and Female Brain!

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Objective

Students will interpret & analyze data in order to construct an argument that describes the influence of hormones on the brain's genetic and anatomical differences in males versus females.

Big Idea

Testosterone changes the landscape and activity of the human brain!

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 describe the influence of testosterone, a male hormone on the development and long term activity of the brain, which in turns explains behavioral differences between the sexes. This lesson, the third of a five lesson unit, specifically sets the stage for students to comprehend regulation of brain activity and how in later units this may potentially explain higher incidences of brain diseases in females verus males. 

Essential Prior Knowledge: Prior to experiencing this lesson, students should be familiar with the following content/concepts:

             a) Structure and Function of DNA  

             b) Gene Expression and Protein Synthesis  

             c) Basics of Cellular Communication

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 the lesson Male versus Female Brains Student Copy in the order of Parts 5, 6 and 3 respectively. 

b) Materials for Male versus Female Brains (teacher preparation instructions) activity organized into bagged and labeled kits for every student pair. 

c) Student lab books.

Common Core and NGSS Standards:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

SP7- Engaging in argument from evidence.

HS-LS1-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells. 

HS-LS1-4: Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.

Standards Rationale: In the science classroom, students are regularly charged with tasks to collect and make sense of data from readings and investigations. What makes these science experiences powerful enough to retain however, is an instructor's ability to access, stimulate and develop students' higher order thinking capacities for cognitive growth and subsequently establishing sound learning practices. In this lesson, students access, analyze & interpret scientific data and construct an argument for their personal positions on the topic of intelligence and gender. They utilize higher level Blooms thinking skills and modeling exercises which in tandem serve to intimately connect students to the tangibles and intangibles throughout the lesson. This promotes higher engagement and time on task as students absorb the content at hand. 

Engage

15 minutes

Section Primer:

           Verbal memory is a term used in cognitive psychology that refers to memory of words and other abstractions involving language. Spatial Memory is the part of memory responsible for recording information about one's environment and its spatial orientation. In this part of the lesson, students discover that males and females vary in their ability to process information and use this information to set the stage to learn the molecular explanations for these differences.

Section Sequence:

a) Slide 1: Ask "What's the smarter gender, male or female?". Facilitate discussion of personal thoughts and considerations of data presented on the slide.  

b) Slide 2: Ask "Do you think that male and female brains work differently?". Discuss briefly before verbally inviting students to explore this question further. Tell students to record the chart for data in their lab books and start the verbal memory test. Follow the directions as prescribed on Page 4 of the teacher's manual for class evaluations.  

c) Slide 3: Verbally indicate to students that they will try another test. Explain that they are to observe an image on the left & find their two exact matches on the right. Advance row 1 of objects and give students 15 seconds to select & record their responses. Repeat with rows 2 & 3. Share correct responses & have students add their scores (1 point for each two items correctly identified.)

d) Ask students again if they think males and females think differently after polling them (raise of hands) for their test results. 

e) Ask "What makes makes females and males physically different?" Discuss until hormones are mentioned and discussed. 

Standards Covered:

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

SP7- Engaging in argument from evidence. 

Explore

20 minutes

Section Sequence:

             In this section of the lesson, my goal is to help students to understand the significance of hormones in the body and their variations in our gender. Using q & a and a brief wet lab, I sequence this part of the lesson as follows: 

a) Provide students with a copy of the student handout and verbally direct them to read the Biology Brief of Part 5 and to record their response in their lab books. Discuss responses after 7 minutes. 

b) Verbally direct students to complete page 10 (the wet lab portion of this lesson) to discover more about the relationship between gender and hormones. Discuss student work after 10 minutes. 

c) Slide 4: Direct and review the developmental timeline with students and connect hormone levels with specific events of brain development and potential implications therein. 

Standards Covered:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

SP7- Engaging in argument from evidence.

HS-LS1-4: Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.

Explain

25 minutes

Section Primer:

     Endocrine signalling uses chemicals called hormones to send messages throughout the body. The hormones are released from the cell into the bloodstream, travel around the entire body and bind to cellular receptors to initiate a cellular response (eg. mitosis, development, etc.). The production of proteins in the body or Protein Synthesis is an example of an endocrine signaling product which ultimately leads to physical changes in the organs of the body. This part of the lesson explores these concepts in the effort to explain brain differences in males versus females.

Section Sequence:

      In this section of the lesson, my goal is to help students understand the molecular responses to varying hormone levels in the body and the physical consequences of said actions on the brain. This section progresses as follows:

a) Slide 5: Ask "Do you think that hormones can influence your genes?" Discuss student initial responses before telling students to consider the content of the Biology Brief in Part 6 of the handout. Via the popcorn reading strategy, engage the class in reading the biology brief. Advance to slide 6 and discuss reading points by emphasizing the steps on the corresponding image. 

b) State: "Fully animated, this is how hormones like testosterone influence the activity of  neurons in the brain". Play video and restate the original question. Discuss responses and focus students attention on the idea that protein synthesis=active genes in the cell.

 c) Instruct students to complete the Activity- Following the Signaling Steps with their partners. Post activity, discuss students discoveries and responses to questions 1 and 2. 

Standards Covered:

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

SP7- Engaging in argument from evidence.

HS-LS1-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells. 

HS-LS1-4: Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.

Extend

15 minutes

Section Sequence:

          In this section of the lesson, my goal is to provide students with a visual of the final product of the molecular work in brain cells and it's impact on functionality/activity of the areas impacted by testosterone. I progress as follows:

a) Slide 7: Verbally direct students to Part 3 of the handout and share that they will examine the final product and consequence of testosterone activity in the brain. Allow students to complete part 3 in their student pairs & discuss their discoveries post activity as a class per the question projected.

Standards Covered: 

SP2- Developing and Using Models.

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

HS-LS1-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells. 

HS-LS1-4: Use a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.

Evaluate

15 minutes

Section Sequence:

         In this section, my goal is for students to reflect on the content acquired and evaluate the data collected as a whole to form a more informed response to the initial question of the lesson. This section proceeds as follows:

a) Slide 8: Revisit and restate the initial question of the lesson and tell students to consider all of the data collected in the lesson before responding. Instruct students to organize their thoughts using the chart presented and discuss as a class their positions on the topic. 

Standards Covered:

SP4- Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

SP7- Engaging in argument from evidence.