A neuroscientist presents simple projects and activities designed to demonstrate the brain’s major functions—and a few of its quirks.
Chudler begins with instructions for variously modeling neurons from clay, flavored gelatin (a “Neuro-Snack”), string, pipe cleaners, or rope. Using similarly common materials, the entries in ensuing sections cover the five senses (three to seven projects each), the brain’s physical structure, reflexes, sleep and body rhythms, and finally the ins and outs of long- and short-term memory. Along with materials lists, step-by-step directions (with appropriate safety notes), estimated durations, and explanations of expected results (with suggestions for alternative or follow-up activities), the entries all include descriptions of the brain part or function in play and related technical or historical “Brain Facts.” Some projects, such as watching a sleeping subject to observe REM sleep or recording the circadian rhythms of an animal (in the picture, a fish in a plain fishbowl), may not be particularly workable, but most will have successful outcomes, and many could serve nicely as the bases for school science projects. In accompanying photographs the large cast of young makers and test subjects is predominantly but not exclusively white.
Valuable insights into (arguably) our most important organ. (Nonfiction. 9-14)