Gray matter @ McCoy

Today we met fifteen sharp high school students at McCoy Academy, a school in Northeast Portland that serves students who have left Portland Public Schools, for (according to teacher Kim Keyes) more structure and smaller class sizes…


A group of NW Noggin undergraduates, including Rosalie Lee, Alex Voigt (pictured above) and Allie Clark from Portland State University, and Chelsey Taylor Anderson and Angela Johnson from WSU Vancouver, began with introductions, and explained why they were studying neuroscience, and what their career and academic goals currently were…



We modeled this first class on the visit we’d made last month to Skyview High in Vancouver, but with some new worksheets and a lesson plan developed by Rosalie Lee.  We are planning on another four visits, to get to know our students better, and build more understanding of neurons, networks, and the relationship between brain structure and behavior…


To that end, we started by asking McCoy students about what they already knew about the brain, and they wowed us, with some pretty complex details about energy use (the brain uses a lot of circulating oxygen and glucose), the role of the pineal gland in sleep and wake cycles, and the fact that each brain hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body…


Noggin undergraduates then took students on a tour of large-scale brain structures, including the cortex, cerebellum, thalamus, and the brainstem.  Rosalie organized everyone into groups, assigned each group a different cortical lobe, and then students acted out the functions associated with their lobe  –  some cerebral charades… 🙂


The Brain Game

The small classroom made it easy for students to talk informally, and ask questions…




And then there were the brains!





We enjoyed our first visit, and the excellent questions students asked today.  Students tell us that they want to learn more about sleep, language, anxiety, addiction, and the integration of technology in the body and brain.  We are looking forward to returning to McCoy for our second class  –  on neurons  –  next week!


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