Thursday, July 23, 2020

Homeschool Biology: Let's Learn Neuroanatomy!

Neuroanatomy hit the requirements for a goodly portion of the kids' studies this past year.

Will needed it for AP Psychology. Syd needed it for Honors Biology. And just for funsies, I found a Healthy Brain Initiative Girl Scout fun patch that also included it!

Obviously, you can learn neuroanatomy simply by memorizing diagrams of the brain, spinal cord, and a neuron, but that's not super fun, now is it?!?

You know what IS super fun?

Making this wearable brain diagram, that's what!

The kids made both English and French-language versions--

--and tried to make one for Luna, as well, but alas, her brain is a different size...

To memorize the parts of the neuron, I had the kids create their own models using their own ideas, although they were allowed to do some research for inspiration. Even teenagers are obsessed with Pinterest! You can see Syd's Model Magic neuron above. Will's beaded neuron was equally impressive, but she built it on a table top and didn't realize that it didn't have any structural integrity until she picked it up and it collapsed into one long, beaded string.

It's a beautiful necklace, though!

So that the kids would have a diagram that they could study, I photocopied some of the pages from this awesome book--

--and had the kids color them and use them as their reference for memorization.

I also like to have the kids get their hands on real artifacts whenever I can, not just models, so although Syd objected and spirited herself away to a friend's house during this activity, Will was happily on board with learning how to dissect a sheep's brain with me.

It's a VERY good lesson in how complicated things are in real life, even when they look pretty simple in a color-by-number diagram!

That was enough neuroanatomy for all of our purposes at the time, but since this topic is one that we do spiral back around to regularly, I've got quite a big list of other games, activities, and other enrichment projects to enhance this study. Here's some of them!

  • Crochet Pattern. Learning to crochet is absolutely on my to-do list, primarily so I can make lots of nerdy little projects like this one!
  • DIY Model. This assignment is similar to the one that I assigned the kids for their neuron model--you just have to tell them the parts that must be illustrated and labeled, and let them go off to be as creative as they like!
  • Ectomy. For those who love the brain hat as much as we do, The Basement Workshop also has a game to reinforce memorization of the lobes of the human brain.
  • Fondant Brain. You know how much we love to turn everything into a cake or a giant cookie! One day, we'll bake ourselves one of those and decorate it with a fondant human brain
  • Functional Neuroanatomy. This interactive site from the University of British Columbia is as detailed as you could ever possibly need. You can watch videos, look at models, and teach yourself a LOT of brain anatomy!
  • Mold. We've got a plastic brain mold very similar to this one, which we use for Halloween baking--because of course! However, it's on my to-do list to one day use plaster of Paris, or perhaps my dream material--concrete!
  • Quilled Neuron. Syd and I have done quilling before, and we thought it was really fun. I'm feeling like a quilled neuron is not beyond our skill set!
By the time you finish all of those projects, you're going to know your neuroanatomy really, really, REALLY well!

P.S. Want to follow along with our handmade homeschool and afterschool adventures? I post lots of resources, projects, and photos of our adventures over on my Craft Knife Facebook page!

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