Put Your Thinking Caps On!

Seventh grade students had a hands (and heads) on experience in Caitlin Kelly’s science class this past week. After a unit of studying brain anatomy and physiology, students put their own brains to the test (literally), using swim caps to learn about the different parts of the human brain.

Before the fun could begin, Caitlin taught the fundamentals of the brain’s structure, including the different lobes and their functions.

“The amygdala is what tells us to go into fight or flight mode,” she explains, “The number one priority of our brains is to keep us alive.”

“The hypothalamus is in charge of maintaining homeostasis, which means it keeps balance in the body. What is the physical response to being cold?”

Ryan raises his hand, “Shivering!”

“Yes, we create movement to keep our bodies warm.”

The class diligently took notes as they will be tested on this subject matter before moving on to their next unit. At the end of the lecture, Caitlin explained the instructions for a fun project that will help students understand the brain, and also double as a study tool. The task: the class must use swim caps and markers to physically learn the locations of the different parts of the brain. On one side of the swim cap, students are asked to trace and label the lobes by name, and on the other side, they are to trace and write the definition or function of the corresponding lobe, making it symmetrical with the other side.

“The real challenge is making sure the sides line up. You need to make the lobes match when you put the swim cap on,” says Caitlin. “If you trust your friend with a sharpie near your face, you can wear the swim cap and trace the lobes.”



Students break out into teams of two. Some throw on the swim cap and jump right in, others are more methodical in their approach– taking a moment to organize their thoughts and study their notes before committing to the permanence of the sharpie.



Either way you go about it, this project will be one your hippocampus will never forget!