CMS students learn about their lobes

Psychology graduate students from the University of Minnesota-Duluth brought a Mobile Neuroscience Lab to Cloquet Middle School last Thursday.

The traveling lab helps seventh-graders meet their life science standards while engaging them in hands-on neuroscience-based learning activities, like handling actual brains.

The psychology students developed the lessons which demonstrated brain concepts beginning with building a brain “cap” comprised of the sections of the brain named one square at a time, followed by an explanation of what it does.

Assistant Professor Rebecca Gilbertson held up a sheep’s brain to show the class as she began the final lesson of the day. As she pointed to a part of the brain, she would have the kids mimic her and repeat which part of the brain she was pointing to.

One of the first things they learned is the reason the brain is wrinkly: so more brain matter can fit into a space.

“Everybody point to your frontal lobe, this is your parietal lobe, this is your occipital lobe and your temporal lobe is above your ears,” Gilberton instructed the students.

She proceeded to teach the class what functions each one of the lobes was responsible for: frontal is for planning and judgement, parietal lobe helps with touch information, the occipital is for vision, and the temporal lobe is in charge of hearing.

“The occipital lobe is for vision, which is weird because it's at the back of your head and your eyes are at the front of your head,” Gilbertson said, explaining the truth in the “mom’s got eyes at the back of her head” saying. The UMD students helped the seventh-graders assemble their brain caps so they could put them on as Gilbertson walked around and helped when needed.

Finally it was time to touch or hold the brains. A few of the students got queasy and had to leave the room as the pans containing the brains were handed out to each table of students. As the frozen sheep brains thawed, a funky smell began to waft around the room, assaulting noses, although most of the students did not seem to notice.

Seventh-graders Josh Sanders and Dylan Heehn agreed the brains were interesting and cold to the touch.

“It was fun to learn about,” Heehn said.

“It feels weird at first, because it is really cold and hard, then turns mushy as it warms up,” Katelyn Kelley said, “It feels kind of like jello.”

Classmate Kylie McKeon agreed, adding she thought it was awesome to hold the brain.

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