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5th Graders Become Neuroscientists During Columbia Field Trip

Posted Date: 04/26/2024

Mandalay Elementary 4th graders in Mrs. Joyce and Mrs. Favata’s class became neurologists for a day during a virtual field trip with the Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach Program learning how amazing their three-pound brain is while controlling all functions of the body. 

Students were led by real scientists where they were instructed by Columbia graduate students in two fun activities involving the brain. The first activity required students to “Test Your Touch” which helped them discover where on their body has the strongest sense of touch. After a brief lesson on sensory receptors on the fingers and forearm, students were placed with a partner to complete the activity. Using a caliper, which is a ruler with a slider, one by one students closed their eyes and tested one another before recording their findings to share with the class.

The second activity, “Seeing Double,” caused students to see double as they constructed a “wonder spinner” with index cards, straw, and two drawings of their choosing. Once the spinner is spun in a back-and-forth motion, it creates a fun optical illusion. As students learned how brains process vision in chunks, the fast spinning made each drawing appear as one. 

At the end of each breakout room station, the students were able to ask the scientists about their day to day life, their experiments, research, and favorite parts of being a scientist. Wantagh High School seniors from the Science Olympiad Club and AP Physics C class took time out of their busy class schedule to assist students with each experiment.