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Motor System

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, Leslie Miller, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, Katherine Taber, PhD, Karen Kabnick, PhD, and Judith Dresden, MS.
Motor System
  • Grades:
  • 3-5 6-8

Students explore neurons and one of the communication networks of the body, the motor system, which is involved in producing movement of the body or parts of the body by way of cellular communication to and from the brain.

The Motor System Teacher’s Guide gives students an opportunity to investigate the anatomy of neurons, involuntary and voluntary movements, reflexes, where memories involved with movement are stored in the brain, areas in the brain involved with movement, the roles of the motor cortex and spinal cord, and how muscles and nerves work together to produce movement. Inquiry-based activities in the teacher’s guide allows students to answer the following questions. 

  1. Signals and Synapses - What is the basic building block of the nervous system?

  2. Make a Neuron - What are the parts of a neuron?

  3. Eye Openers - What are involuntary movements?

  4. Real Knee Jerkers - What are reflexes?

  5. Practice Makes Perfect - How are motor programs created and stored?

  6. Take a Walk - Why does the brain store memories of how to do things?

  7. My Motor Strip - What role does the motor cortex play in movement?

  8. Motor Model - Where is the spinal cord and how is it protected?

  9. Moving Biographies - How do people with motor system diseases or problems lead productive lives?

  10. Kids on the Move - How do the nervous system and muscles work together to produce movement?

The guide also is designed to be used with integrated components of The Motor System unit: Trouble at Tsavo: The Tale of the Black Rhino (storybook), The Motor System Explorations (student magazine), and The Motor System: The Reading Link (language arts worksheet activities related to the storybook).

Although the activities are most appropriate for use with students in grades 3–5, the lessons are easily adaptable for other grade levels. The guide also is available in print format.

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Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: R25 RR09833

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