As part of the NIH-funded expansion of the Science Adventure Lab program, two new curriculum modules have been developed and both are receiving high praise from students and teachers. The new modules are called Vital Signs! Monitoring our Body’s Systems and Sense, Think, Move: Exploring Brain Functions.
In Vital Signs students learn about heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature and use authentic medical equipment to take measurements of these key indicators of health. These activities are intended to be a fun demonstration of what healthcare professionals do and the tools they use, but also help to demystify what goes on when they visit their own physician. Students use a wrist blood pressure cuff for measuring heart rate and blood pressure, a spirometer attached to a touch screen computer for measuring respiratory rate, and a temporal scanning thermometer to measure their temperature.
Sense, Think, Move is a neuroscience-based module that demonstrates the key role of the brain as the control center in the human body. Students explore the three key functions of the brain – sensing, thinking or problem solving and controlling movement. After learning about the five senses, students investigate the power of their sense of smell. In Sniff-O-Rama, students try to identify five unknown odors. Some odors draw praise and some lead to groans and wrinkled faces, which is an important demonstration of the important information gained through smell.
Next, students learn about the ability of the brain to process the information we receive from our senses in order to think and make decisions. In Name the Brain, students visually examine five brain specimens embedded in plastic blocks and using clues, use their own brain power to try to solve the puzzle of which animal each brain came from. Students next learn about how the brain controls movement by sending signals to our muscles and how scientists can record the electrical activity of muscles using a device called an electromyograph. After sticking electrode pads on their forearms and attaching the leads, students are excited to use the electromyograph to see the electricity produced by their muscles when they squeeze their fist or move their wrist. Students come away with an appreciation of just how powerful and complex the human brain is.
The new modules are aligned with state and national academic standards, and like all of our curricula are designed to empower students with the confidence that they can be successful in science, and to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare.
More information about the modules is available at www.seattlechildrens.org/adventurelab under the curriculum tab.