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Brain Comparisons

Author(s): Leslie Miller, PhD, Barbara Tharp, MS, Judith Dresden, MS, Katherine Taber, PhD, Karen Kabnick, PhD, and Nancy Moreno, PhD.
Brain Comparisons

Students learn the brain has three main parts: cerebrum, cerebellum and brainstem, the skull provides protection for the brain, wrinkles in brain tissue allow more of the cerebral cortex to fit into the skull—which correlates to higher intelligence, brains differ in size and shape among animals, and the size of an animal’s brain relative to its body size is a predictor of intelligence.

The Brain Comparisons Teacher’s Guide gives students an opportunity to investigate properties of the brain and skull, the significance of folds on the surface of the brain, the difference between the brains of cats and other animals, and the relative size of an animal’s brain and its relationship to apparent intelligence. Inquiry-based activities in the teacher’s guide allows students to answer the following questions.

  1. Did You Know? - What are some properties of the brain?

  2. Build A Skull - What protects the brain?

  3. Good Wrinkles - What is the significance of folds on the surface of the brain?

  4. Comparing Brains - How are the brains of cats and rabbits different?

  5. How Much Brain Do You Need? - Is the relative size of an animal’s brain related to its apparent intelligence?

  6. Create A Brain - If you could create an animal with specific characteristics, what kind of brain would it need?

The guide also is designed to be used with integrated components of the Brain Comparisons unit: Skullduggery: A Case of Cranium Confusion (storybook), Brain Comparisons Explorations (student magazine), and Brain Comparisons: 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.

Download: Brain Comparisons Teacher's Guide

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Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Grant Number: R25 RR09833