Tricky Brains

The fourth graders have been looking at the way our brain works.  We’ve looked at some optical illusions, kaleidoscopes, maps of the brain, and read about Marcel Marceau and how our brains pick up on emotions and representation.  (Marceau also works in well with our post WWII setting for In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.)  We’ve talked about National Geographic’s Brain Games and the tricks our brain plays on us.  That goes well with our optical illusions.  One of the games is a passage where you try to count how often the letter “f” appears in a short passage.  Most people don’t get the right number on the first try, because your brain skips some of them as unimportant.  And, we looked at a paragraph that showed some Cmabrigde Uinervtisy  (Cambridge University) research.  It says that our brain does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.  If the first and last letter of the word is correct, the middle letters can be scrambled and our brain still reads the word.  We are pretty amazing animals.  

Maybe one day, one of our students will discover something else amazing about our brains or how to use our brain to advance learning or overcome learning disabilities.  


Hot Air Rises

Every so often the fourth graders take a break and do something fun.  No grade involved.  No test or assessment required.   One week, we wrote a paragraph on all we could think of that might apply if we took a black bag of air out in the sunlight.  Most of the class knew that black absorbs heat and that the air in the bag would get warm.  That was a pretty good start.

We discussed molecules getting warm and moving faster and taking up more space.  We talked about warm air rising, so the bag might float, and we discussed the difference between a demonstration and an experiment.  

Then we took our black balloon bag out and filled it with air for our demonstration on warm air rising.  Ours was a demonstration, not an experiment, because it had already been tested many times, and we knew what the results would be.  

The fourth graders also pretended to be cold molecules (we just moved in place).  Then we warmed up (a little more movement).  And finally we became pretty warm (we moved around the area).  Hopefully, this helped explain why the bag became fuller as the air warmed and then finally started to rise.   Another comparison we used was a small piece of ice on a metal lid, then the ice warmed and melted on the lid, finally set in the sun, it evaporated.  Wow, if it rained we would have had the water cycle.


Katelyn Gunter