We played the name game to get to know each other a bit better!
Activating our brains....how many body parts can you name? Girls won this round!!
We learned that our brain has different parts, and that those parts control different things such as walking, talking, thinking, breathing... Making brain hats helped us to visualize what our brains look like.
Next we talked about how the brain sends and receives messages via our spinal cord and across our nerve cells. We also learned how drugs can interfere with signals getting to our brains. We played the Drugs and Neurons game. Can the signals get to the brain, or will the drugs interfere?!?
Next we tried to send our messages (balls) to the brain as fast as we could. We just weren't able to send the messages as fast as our neruons!!! Our brains truly are amazing!!
After looking at pictures of nerve cells, and seeing how they connect to each other to make a pathway for the signal to travel along (across synapses), we played a game where we became the nerve cells and made a path to get the message to the brain.
Our brains and spinal cords are part of our central nervous system. Our nerves are part of our peripheral nervous system. One job of our nerve fibers is to send sensory information to our brains. We explored the sense of touch by having various items 'touched' to different parts of our bodies while blindfolded. We found that we were able to determine if an object was cold, but we couldn't determine what the object was until we used our hands. That must mean that we have more complex sensory receptors in our hands!!
Don't worry moms...we used washable markers!! While blindfolded our friends put a point on our arms and we tried to touch the same spot with our markers. We couldn't do it!!
Tactile (which means connected to our sense of touch) Mazes were a fun craft break for us! You can find your way through the maze without even looking!!
Break time fun!
Time to explore our eyes and learn about sight. We talked about the parts of the eye, how our eyes 'see' and we discovered that sometimes we can trick our brains. First we found out that we have a blind spot - there is a part of our retinas without receptors for light, so when an object hits that region it won't be seen. We also explored depth perception and found out that we need BOTH eyes for that!! We finished by experimenting with optical illusions and learned that our receptors can get tired and not work as well!!
Making thaumatropes was fun! Images that we see will remain for one-tenth to one-twentieth of a second - it's called “the principle of the persistence of vision". A thaumatrope has an image on one side and a different one on the other. We can fool our eyes by switching the images faster than 1/10 of a second so that the two images appear as one.
Next was our sense of hearing. Can you recognize familiar sounds? Most of us could!!
We talked about different parts of our ears, and learned that our brains interpret the vibrations from sounds that enter our ears. We also learned that we can 'trap' and 'amplify' sound with these really cool noise makers!! Sorry parents!!
Day 2 - More Nervous System
We started out the day with a fun game of Brains and Neurons.
Our second 'name as many body parts as you can' challenge ended in a tie! I have to say I was quite impressed with some of the new vocabulary they included....occipital lobe and frontal lobe!! Great job!!
There is a belief that our tongues have specific areas which are susceptible to different tastes: salty, bitter, sour, sweet and savoury. Scientists now argue that this s a myth. We decided to test out our taste receptors. We found that, in fact different parts of our tongues were better at 'tasting' different flavours. Most of us agreed that the sweet taste was most prominent at the front of our tongues, while a bitter flavour was more detectible at the back of our tongues.
Can a dry tongue taste? We found out that it can't! We started by drying off our tongues really well...it felt "weird"...and then we added a few sprinkles of sugar. We were surprised that we were only able to taste once our mouth started producing saliva.
A couple of their favourite break activities are inspecting nature and reading...LOVE IT!!!
We looked at the different parts of the nose, (yes boogers too) and talked about how a smell becomes a message in our brains. We found out that different senses work together to give an accurate message to our brains. Without sight and smell we were not able to taste!!
We tested our sniffers on some common scents, and found that memory also played a role in helping our brain detect smells. Vanilla extract - "It smells like baking". Lemon - "It smells like when mom's cleaning".
Time to get some fresh air and clear out our noses!!
Getting crafty now! Since we were talking about our sense of smell we started making some 'smelly' flowers to give to our moms!! We painted a little essential oil onto our coffee filter petals...then we waited for them to dry!
The next task involved groups of campers developing games which showcased their learning. The first group made up an obstacle course as a path from the brain, down the spinal column to the nerve cells! The second group devised a hopscotch style game that involved avoiding the drugs!! I'm glad that was one of the messages that stuck with them!! The third game was a tag game about nerves! All the games were great and they had lots of fun! Great job campers!!!
We finished off the nervous system with a little quiz game, and I'm happy to say that I was very impressed with what they remembered! Way to use those brains!!!
Day 3 - Digestive System (or as the campers like to call it...gross out day!)
We started out the day with another 'name as many body parts as you can game', and again it was a tie!!
We talked about the digestive system and how we get the energy we need to survive from digesting (or breaking down) food (fuel) into the things our body needs to work (like sugars, proteins, nutrients....)
Next it was time for our journey through the digestive system. We started with the mouth and found that we didn't need our teeth to break down a saltine cracker. Our saliva (spit) can break down foods too! We knew it was breaking down when it started to get all "mushy" and "gross".
Next...Take a slide on down the esophagus. Wait a minute!! It's not a slide. If it were a slide, we wouldn't be able to swallow when we are upside down. I wonder if we have some special muscles on our esophagus to help push the food down to our stomachs.
Gross out #2 - The Stomach Into our stomachs (baggies) we added acid (lemon juice) and some crackers. Now how to break it down? Maybe we can crush it? The stomach must have muscles! The juice (stomach acid) is making it look like puke!! We made puke...EWWWWWW gross!!
#3 - The Small Intestine We took some broken down food (oatmeal) and added it to our small intestine (panty hose). We can't put it in there, some will come out the holes! Gross...why is the water all white and gooey? (Here's where we took a minute to talk about absorption of nutrients) I let them at it and enjoyed as I watched the expressions on their faces! They all were quite surprised when the amount left over was so little, compared to the amount they started with.
And #5...Onto the large intestine (paper towel) where we got out as much water as we could. This one ended with the addition of a new word to our vocabulary: We made "human biological waste"! GROSS!!!
Time for a snack and some free play!
Now let's see how long the digestive system is. How far do you think it is from your mouth to your esophagus? Three inches sounds reasonable - measure it off! From there to the stomach....10 more. And an average stomach would be about 6 inches. How about the small intestine? Keep going, keep going...Wow! How does all that fit in our bodies?? Why is the large intestine smaller that the small one? I just love the discussion!!
The after lunch break results in the capture of our insect pal "Mr. Cabby White"! We decided he could stay with us for just a little while so the campers could introduce him to their parents.
We reinforced the learning by making a marble maze through the digestive system. It was unfortunate that they had to wait for them to dry before they could try them out!!! They really enjoyed this one!
While they were working so diligently on the maze task, I pulled them aside to finish up their flowers from our scent lesson. They loved the fact that the flowers were actually smelly!!
We had another little break and then played the quiz game. The boys won this round by the seat of their pants!! We took a pause in the action to add the vocabulary term "gloating" to our repertoire.
We finished off the day with another game development task. This wasn't in the plans, but they really enjoyed the task the day before and did such a great job at it, that I was happy to fulfil their requests! Another job well done!
And off Mr. Cabby White goes!
Day 4: Muscular and Skeletal Systems
Our morning started with some colouring, puzzles and then we tried out all of the digestive system system mazes from the day before, now that the glue was dry.
Another body part challenge, and another tie!!
We took some time to learn about our bones. Why do we have bones? What are they made of? How do different types of joints allow them to move in different ways? We found our biggest bones and our smallest bones. We also found out that they have special names - for example our finger bones are called phalanges.
Then it was craft time! They loved painting their hands!!
Indoor break today as it was raining outside.
Show me your muscles!!! I asked them to show me their muscles...biceps all around!!! I then asked if they had other muscles, and got an "ab"! That's it??? Hmmm.....Oh...we have a muscle in our eye! And our small intestine has muscles!! Oh, Oh, Oh,...our tongue is a muscle!! Now they were thinking, but I wanted more! We did a few different actions and tried to find the muscles that were working. Push the table, pull the table, jump, bend over, etc.
We talked about how muscles contract, and thought about how the muscles in our arms work to curl our arms up and then put it back down. We were a bit confused, so we made a little craft to demonstrate how the bicep contracts to pull the arm up and the tricep contracts to pull the arm back down.
Now for a game of "find the missing bones".
We ended the day talking about tendons and ligaments and started making mechanical hands. This one took a while so we had to revisit this one the next morning.
Day 5: Respiratory and Circulatory Systems
We started this day by finishing off our mechanical hands. They really enjoyed making them work. They made the Superman sign, fists, I love you signs and more!
While those hands were being finished, they drew posters about what they loved learning the most this week.
The final name the body parts challenge went to the boys...and what a difference from the first day!! All of the new vocabulary made me smile :)
Onto the respiratory system where we had a basic lesson on how lungs deliver oxygen to the blood and why our bodies need oxygen. We also talked about the air we breathe in (that it's not all just oxygen), and that the air we breathe out contains carbon dioxide (a waste product), which the plants and trees use to grow and survive. All of a sudden we were in a great student-led discussion about our relationship with trees and how important it is to respect the environment!! I LOVED IT!!! We made model lungs to illustrate how the diaphragm works to help us breathe in and out. Any activity involving balloons is always a hit!
A quick break.
Next up was the circulatory system. We talked about how it works together with our respiratory system to deliver oxygen to all of our body parts and then return the 'used' blood back to pick up more oxygen. We took a look at the role gravity plays in circluation.
We took a look at the heart and it's parts...I loved their expressions when they saw what a real heart looks like. We talked about valves and their function, and then we attempted to make a model heart. This one didn't work as well as we had hoped, but it was still fun to try!
After lunch we headed out to the park to reward ourselves for a job well done this week! As we started walking the tracks (don't worry...the trains move very slowly in this part of town) one of the campers wondered why the rails were raised, and how the train ran along the tracks with all stones in there. What better way to answer their questions than to have a train come by and show them!! Along the way we played a body part word game!!
We had some fun with our bodies!!! And saw a bald eagle too!!!
As we were getting ready to head home, we talked about the new friendships we had formed over the week...with each other, and with the trees!! One camper told me that, on a scale of 1 to legendary, the week rated .....LEGENDARY!!! I tend to agree!!