Brain Awareness Week: Junior School Inquiries

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Junior School students spent Brain Awareness Week learning about the brain during daily assemblies and through in-class inquiries. Our youngest students are full of great brain-related questions, which were written out and put on the “Our Wonderful Brains” board. Each class ultimately chose one question to research and answer, and students shared their findings at the final Brain Awareness Week assembly on Friday.

Here’s just a bit of what our students learned this week, as it relates to the brain:

Kindergarten M: Is the brain a muscle?
We found out from a story that the brain is not a muscle, it is an organ made of tissues like neurons. Even though it’s not a muscle, the brain still needs to be exercised.

Kindergarten N: How does your brain think of dreams when you are sleeping?
Scientists don’t really know why we dream but they know our dreams happen in the rapid eye movement stage of sleep.

Grade 1A: We counted how many hours we slept. We noticed if we didn’t sleep enough we felt cranky. So we wanted to know why the brain needs sleep.
If we don’t get enough sleep we won’t have enough energy during the day. There also won’t be enough blood going to our brain and we could get a headache. If we are too tired our hippocampus might not know where to put the right file and we might forget some memories.

Grade 1L: Our class came up with several questions, but the question we discussed the most was “Can video games damage your brain?”
Thirteen students said that video games can damage your brain, one student said no. We thought video games probably could damage your brain because when you play a lot of video games your brain hurts because too much screen time is bad for your eyes and your eyes are controlled by your brain. When there’s too many bad guys or violence in video games and you focus on that for a long time it could be damaging. Video games could also be damaging because if you play too many video games and you love them so much that all you want to do is play them, this is being obsessed or addicted. Addiction to video games is damaging.

Grade 2N: How many classified parts of the brain are there?
The answer is almost unlimited. There are four main parts that are the cerebellum, the cerebrum, the limbic system and the brain stem. But the cerebrum can be divided into the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the sensory cortex, the motor cortex, the temporal lobe, Wernicke’s area, the occipital lobe and Broca’s area. The cerebellum is also known as the little brain. The limbic system contains the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus and the thalamus. The brain stem contains the midbrain, pons and the medulla. It can be divided into 75 parts, and then it can be divided again, and again, and again – so really there are thousands of parts.

Grade 2P: We wondered if animals’ brains were the same as a human’s brain.
Most animals have a brain, but some do not. A human brain weighs about three pounds. An elephant’s brain weighs 13 pounds; it is the largest brain of any animal on land. A whale has a bigger brain than any other animal. We found lots of interesting facts about animals’ brains. Animals such as jellyfish, sponge, starfish and tapeworm do not have brains. Did you know that ducks sleep with one eye open? Half of its brain is sleeping, while the other half is awake. An octopus has a brain and it is one of the smartest creatures in the sea.

Grade 3: How does the brain think?
Your brain thinks by neurons that fire signals to your brain.

Grade 4H: If I hurt my toe, how fast does the pain travel through my spinal cord and into my brain?
It travels 100 metres per second, or 268 miles per hour. The brain receives and sends messages from the spinal cord. The spinal cord runs through your back and into your thalamus.Your spinal cord is what keeps you upright. For instance, if you get hurt, a message will be sent through your spinal cord and into your brain. The brain can send messages to anywhere in your body.

Grade 4J: We wondered how brains send and receive messages so fast. Our class would like to share our research in the form of a song (to the tune of “Found a Peanut”).

Use your dendrites, Use your dendrites
To connect through your brain.
Take in info, analyze it,
Grow some new ones unrestrained.JS-BrainAwareness-15

Axons send out neurotransmitters
To the dendrites all around.
Across the synapse jumps the impulse
New ideas can now abound.

Stimulation is what the brain needs
To make dendrites stretch and grow.
New connections make us smarter
In what we think and what we know.

Use your dendrites, Use your dendrites
To connect through your brain.
Take in info, analyze it,
Grow some new ones unrestrained.

Grade 5M: Our class wondered why the brain has wrinkles.
We learned that as the brain grows it folds itself. The folds allow us to fit more brain matter inside our skull.

Grade 5R: We wondered why our brains are in our heads?
Your brain is in your head because the first animal organism had mass, and to do well in life it needed eyes to see what it was eating so the eyes evolved. More and more nerves were needed in the head, and all the nerves formed into a clump. This mass of cells became the brain. So over time, 4 out of 5 senses have evolved in the head, so it is the logical place for the brain.

(Photos by Gordon Chan and Kyle Slavin)

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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