Edlin second graders are currently learning about the nervous system, and specifically the brain and all its parts. Each student was able to hold a life-like model of the brain in their hands and identify the major parts of the brain. They were excited to learn that the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum, controls their thoughts and senses. They quickly mastered the vocabulary associated with the brain, so their responses echoed with words such hemispheres, cerebrum, cranium and our favorite, the medulla oblongata.
Edlin’s dedicated lower grade science room creates a unique participatory learning environment. We have our own human skeleton. A glow illuminates the room when they realize that the brain, with all its components, is key to our central nervous system. Not only did they learn that the cerebellum is dedicated to balance, but they can visualize it, and are able to point to the location of the brain and its parts in their own heads.
To emphasize how the brain works, our young scientists made soup out of legumes, garlic, and the leafy stalks of carrots. They were remarkable in their ability to understand not only all of the senses which were being used in making the delicious soup; thinking, touching, seeing, smelling, etc., but the questions asked while we were making the soup showed that our Edlin second graders were thinking well beyond what was expected of children in this age group.
This is what science is truly about. It is not about memorizing, but instead, understanding and being able to think beyond what you are being taught.