Food for Thought

This is the third in a series of posts about some of my favorite sessions at NABT’s 2013 conference in Atlanta, GA.

Project NEURON, which pairs graduate students in teaching with neuroscience researchers and high school teachers to develop curricula, gave a presentation called Food for Thought. They focused on having students draw conceptual models to highlight what they do and don’t understand. This session focused on the body’s glucose usage and the endocrine system.

They like to organize students into small groups with mini-whiteboards made from shower board (you can get it at hardware stores in large sheets for cheap; they’ll cut it up for you if you say you’re a teacher). Students draw models of a “glunculus” showing disproportionate glucose usage by the body. After some more instruction, the instructor shows a short video of someone jumping out of the way of a moving car. Students discuss what caused his reaction – nervous or endocrine? Then they draw a model of how epinephrine works in the body and do a short powerpoint quiz to identify pictures of people who are and aren’t under the influence of epinephrine (pictures include dilated vs. constricted pupils, heart rate and blood pressure monitors, graphs of glucose usage, etc.). As participants in the session, we got to act as students and do some of these activities, which was a lot of fun.

The curriculum unit, as well as others, are available here: https://neuron.illinois.edu/curriculum-units (you have to create a free login, but it’s definitely worth it).

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