NEUROSCIENCE EDUCATION TOOLS FOR SCIENTISTS, TEACHERS, AND PARENTS - 2001
BEEMNET - BRAIN EXCHANGE ELECTRONIC MENTORSHIP NETWORK
SENSATION AND PERCEPTION
WARNING: This resource guide is undergoing major revision. However, many of you have come to rely on it for quick access to your favorite neuroscience education web pages. Therefore, our "not as perfect as they should be" pages are being posted for your use during this renovation (i.e., most of the hyperlinks are functioning). The refurbished guide will contain links to new sites and revised commentary. These red warning labels will be removed when the site is current. Thanks!  Posted February 24, 2001
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Suggest new resources for this list!
Brain Awareness Week
Television, Video and Radio
Virtual Laboratories
Government Resources
Definitely for Kids!
Brain Research in the News
More Activities
History of Neuroscience
Neuroanatomy
Clinical Neuroscience
Sensation and Perception
Sensory - Motor Systems
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Neuroscience Laboratory and Classroom Activities - produced for use in high schools by the National Association of Biology Teachers and the Society for Neuroscience. The entire handbook is posted on the web in ".pdf" format. That means you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader (free software) to read and /or print the activities (which are complete with diagrams and data sheets, yeah!) There are twelve laboratories in the handbook, six are directly related to sensory systems. 
 

Is seeing believing?
Hearing in the dark
What else do ears do?
Do you get the point?
No pain, no gain
Olfactory fatigue and memory

This guide contains extensively documented laboratories as well as: 1) important information on using the "learning cycle" (i.e., exploration, concept/term introduction and application) to teach science, 2) guidelines for scientists on how to prepare activities for high school students, and 3) how to modify the labs to accommodate students with special needs.  This handbook is well worth downloading - and using! 

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Brain Pop  - This is a really fun site for kids and adults to explore more than 50 topics on health, science and technology.  Humorous, animated movies starring Tim and Moby (Tim's robot pal) give a pretty thorough overview of each topic in about 2 minutes.  There's an interactive quiz on each topic as well as an area of the screen that cycles through various "Ridiculous But True" facts.  There's even a cartoon called "What Are They Up To At Brain Pop High?" for each topic.  A Teacher's Corner and Parent's Place contain lists of connections to other resources. 

Brain Pop topics that relate most to learning about the senses are listed below.  Clicking on the main topic will take you to the home page for that topic and load the movie.  You can get to all of the associated activities from this page.  However, if you're just looking for a couple of simple experiments, skip the movie and go directly to the EXPERIMENT WITH BOB links (Bob's an ex-labrat).  If you're looking for coloring book activities, check out the ACTIVITY PAGE  links.  

Go to the "Definitely for Kids!" page to see a complete list of BrainPop neuroscience topics

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Brain | ACTIVITY PAGE | EXPERIMENT WITH BOB
Nerves | ACTIVITY PAGE | EXPERIMENT WITH BOB |
Cells | ACTIVITY PAGE | EXPERIMENT WITH BOB |
Vision | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |  
Light | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |
Hearing | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  | 
Sound | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |
Waves | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |
Taste | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |
Smell | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB  |
Skin | ACTIVITY PAGE  |  EXPERIMENT WITH BOB |
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KidsHealth.org - Expert health information about children from before birth through adolescence.  There are hundreds of in-depth, but understandable, articles and features written by health professionals. These are reviewed by children's health experts of The Nemours Foundation and other health professionals nationwide (references and reviewers are listed on the site).  There are separate areas for kids, teens, and parents - each with its own focus, tone, and design. Below are examples of articles and activities related to the senses:

KidsHealth.org for Kids

My Body - Go here to learn all about 15 different parts of the body.  There is a shockwave version that makes a lot of noises and a non-Shockwave version that doesn't.  The body parts you can learn about are bones, the brain, digestive system, eye, ear, hair, heart, kidney, lungs, muscles, nails, nose, skin, teeth, and tongue.

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How the Body Works - Simple Shockwave animations (with sound) on how different parts of the body work.  Suitable for people (such as kids) very new to learning about the body.  Located in the "Kids Only Closet" on the KidsHealth.org for Kids site.

  • How Your Ear Works - Very clear, simple animation (with sound) shows the steps between soundwaves entering the ear and generating a nerve impulse. 
  • The Eye - Shows the parts of the eye and how the lens focuses an image on the retina.
  • The Muscles - Watch (and listen) as muscles in the arm lift a twenty pound weight (that is once the nervous system has sent an electrical signal telling the muscle to move!)
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The Leech: Virtual Laboratory in Neurophysiology - In this lab you'll explore nerve cells in the leech that collect touch information from the skin and send it to the brain. The activities include preparing the lab, anesthetizing the leech and performing a delicate dissection. This will enable you to use microelectrodes and sophisticated techniques to study the cells in question. This lab simulation is very cool and extremely well done. You even get to use expensive equipment and a sharp scalpel blade! This is one of the virtual laboratories in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute BioINTERACTIVE series.
 

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Seeing, Hearing and Smelling the World: New Findings Help Scientists Make Sense of our Senses - Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This is an elaborate, colorful, animated site that beautifully describes how we see, hear, and smell. This exceptional quality, however, comes at a price, i.e., sometimes the pages take a long time to load!  In addition to basic information on the senses, there is also a nice section on new brain imaging techniques and how they have helped scientists learn even more about how we sense and interpret the world: The PET Scan Difference Between Seeing and Hearing a Word and Giant Magnets of fMRI Reveal the Brain's Activity.
 

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Brain Connection.com is an online source of information about the brain, dedicated to furthering the knowledge of parents, educators, students, or the curious visitor.  The site provides the adult visitor a succinct look into various aspects of what's current in neuroscience research, education, application, and policy. The links listed below pertain to information about sensory systems on Brain Connection.com: 

How the Brain Works: - introductory table of contents that includes information on vision, audition and touch.

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Feature Articles concerning Sensation and Perception

  • Child and Brain: the Stages of Development - A feature article that addresses the development of the sensory systems. (Children love to learn about how they grow and develop.)
  • Neuroscience Education: Exploring the Inner Unknown
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    BC Medical Art Collection - downloadable medical illustrations for use in presentations, lectures, and classes. These may be used free of charge only for non-commercial purposes; any use must retain a readable copyright notice (see Terms of Use on the Brain Connection.com site).  The illustrations complement the topics covered in the Neuroseries. The files may be downloaded in PC tiff, Mac tiff, and Power Point formats.
     

    Vision
    Development
    Clinical Conditions
    Brain Anatomy
     Audition

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    Brain Teasers - Illusions: - A nice selection of interactive exhibits that help demonstrate, via experimentation, the science behind various illusions.  Each illusion is accompanied by a thorough description of what is happening in the nervous system. This provides the teacher, parent, scientist, or student (in some cases) with the background they need in order to help explain the phenomena to others. The illusions included in this exhibit are: The Cafe Wall, The Hermann Grid, Motion Ambiguity, Shape from Motion, Backwards Speech, and  Anti-images.
     

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    Bill Nye the Science Guy - This is home for the award-winning television program, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Check out the "Episode Guide" in the "Un-Nye-Verse" to find information on Bill Nye episodes that will help students understand principles related to neuroscience.   Each episode contains "fast facts" on the topic, experiments for home, and related links on the Internet. Unfortunately, to get to each of the topics listed below you will have to click through a few steps. First select U-NYE-VERSE from the home page and then click on EPISODE GUIDE.  Neuroscience topics are listed in the drop down menus labeled LIFE SCIENCE and PHYSICAL SCIENCE.  Select a topic from the menu, and remember to click the "GO" button. At least 10 Bill Nye programs are related to concepts that will help explain various sensory systems. 
     

    Eyeball (20) 
    Light and Color (16) 
    Light Optics (27) 
    Sound (12) 
    Skin (04) 
    Heat (30) 
    Pressure (42) 
    Smell (91) 
    Phases of Matter (08)
    Balance (episode 32) 

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    Music Videos from Bill Nye the Science Guy -To liven up your exploration of the visual system, why not learn the words and music to "Two Eyes" by the Eye Doctors (from episode #20, The Eyeball).  All of the Bill Nye music videos are fun and very well done. Again, there is no quick link to this video, but you can get there by going to the Bill Nye home page and clicking on Media Lab. In the Media Lab click on Video Lab.  In the Video Lab there is a drop down menu that says "Pick a Nye QuickTime". The Music Videos are at the bottom of this menu.  Select one and then remember to click on the "Get It!" button.  The QuickTime movies take a while to load, but they're worth it. If you don't have the QuickTime plug in, you can download it for free

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    Newton's Apple - Newton's Apple is an award-winning national science program for kids and adults. It is produced by KTCA-TV in the Twin Cities and sponsored by 3M.  The web site contains lessons from the teachers' guides developed for seasons 9-15. These have been designed to accompany the television program or be used as a stand-alone resource. Each lesson plan includes insights about the topic, connections to encourage classroom discussion, resource information, vocabulary, a main activity, and several "Science Try Its" (i.e., more activities). Here are links to programs that explain principles related to various sensory systems:

    Glaucoma (1501) 
    Hearing (1303) 

    Human Eye (1401)
    Infrared Light (1112) 
    Taste and Smell (1101) 

    Tears (908)
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    National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

    • NIDCD Health Information: provides information about human communication and disorders of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. 
    LlSTS OF ONLINE PUBLICATIONS
    FACT SHEETS
    Hearing and Balance
    Smell and Taste
    Voice, Speech and Language
    Glossary
    Hearing Aids
    Otosclerosis
    Vocal Abuse and Misuse
    Vocal Cord Paralysis

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    • NIDCD Site for Kids and Teachers -  Requires the  Flash 3 plug-in which can be downloaded for free. (If Flash 3 is already installed on your computer, a little blue car drives across the screen to the sound of circus music.)  All of the activities on this page download and are ready to play within 10-15 seconds using a 28.8k modem.
    I love what I hear! Teacher's Guide to Classroom Activities About Hearing for grades 3-6.  Includes a lesson on how we hear, print-ready versions of handouts, and 20 suggestions for ACTIVITIES THAT DON'T REQUIRE A COMPUTER.
    Questions and Answers About Hearing  - Thirteen multiple choice and True or False questions. An animated  wise old owl lets you know if your answer is correct.
    How Loud is too Loud? Interactive Sound Ruler - Examples of things that make noises at various intervals above and below 90 decibels, the level at which prolonged exposure to any noise can cause gradual hearing loss. 
    Ask the Scientist Q & A About Hearing - Audioclips (and read along text) by Dr. James F. Battey, Jr. (Director of NIDCD) and Dr. Linda Rosenstock (Director of NIOSH) on how to help children understand noise-induced hearing loss, how we hear, if noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, why it matters that people have hearing loss, and how to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. 
     
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    National Eye Institute (NEI)

    • "VISION" - NEI's national public education program designed for grades 4-8.  There are three lesson plans that can be used by the teacher or a guest speaker. Select just a few of the activities to complete during one class session, or implement the entire program and hold several classes on vision. 
    • Lesson Plan 1: The Eyes and the Great Brain Connection
      Lesson Plan 2: The Imperfect Eye
      Lesson Plan 3: Eye Safety
         
    • Glossary of Vision Terms
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    Cow's Eye Dissection - A step-by-step guide to dissecting a cow's eye produced by the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  Includes terrific hints and tips from Exploratorium "explainers" that can make this this activity even more informative and exciting.  There is also a QuickTime movie, "The Cow's Eye Primer," that provides additional information about different parts of the eye, however the web version of this movie will only run on a Macintosh or an old version of Windows (3.1).

    RELATED INFORMATION

    • Light, Sight and Shadow - teachers at Banded Peak School in Alberta, Canada show, by example, how they use the process of inquiry to integrate the content of various hands-on activities and explorations to satisfy multiple objectives of their fourth-grade curriculum (e.g., vision and sight in health, color in art, technology, and language arts).  One of their activities was the cow's eye dissection.
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    The Exploratorium is a museum about science, art, and human perception housed within San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts.  It physically houses 650 exhibits on science, art, and human perception. The web physically houses The Exploratorium Online Exhibits These are fun, very well done, online demonstrations of familiar optical and auditory illusions.  For most of the exhibits, however, the scientific explanations are brief.  This is a great site for exploration and a jumping off point for further inquiry!  Exhibits are available in English, Espanol, Francais, and Italiano. 
     

    OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

    The Temple Illusion -The columns of this temple help to explain perspective.  QuickTime 3 or QuickTime Virtual Reality plug-ins are needed to reveal the illusion.
    Trapezoidal Window - Is the window swinging back and forth, or what?
    Cafe Wall Illusion - Interactive exhibit on the apparent distortion in the pattern of rectangular bricks. The illusion depends on the alignment of bricks and color of the mortar. Try it!
    Changing Illusions - A fantastic set of interactive exhibits that helps explain five common optical illusions. It's a mini optical illusions laboratory!
    Postcard Exhibits - Four traditional optical illusions: the young or old woman; faces or vases; phantom spots; words, colors, and color words.
    Sliding Gray Step - Make the gray stripes look lighter or darker depending upon their background.
    Bird in a Cage (also could be called American Flag) - Demonstrates some characteristics of color vision and introduces the concept of after-images. 
    Disappearing Act - Illustrates that its much easier to see animals (who use camouflage as a defense) when they are moving than when they are still.  Demonstrates motion detectors in our visual system.  The Shockwave and Quick Time versions of the exhibit are different from each other and both are worth viewing.
    Death Spinner - Why does the spiral appear to  move closer or farther away?
    Fading Dot - Demonstrates the importance of tiny eye movements in vision.
    Squirming Palm - an interactive exhibit that demonstrates the "waterfall effect."
     

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    AUDITORY ILLUSIONS

    Can You Find the Highest Note? - A rather sophisticated presentation of three auditory illusions demonstrating circularity in pitch judgment: The Shepard Scale (Discrete);  The Tritone Paradox and;  The Risset Scale (Continuous).  The site includes links to other sites that have even more information on auditory paradoxes.  In fact, you may find the link to Demonstration #27 produced by the Acoustical Society of America helpful in more fully explaining the Shepard and Rissert scales phenomena.
    Ladle Rat Rotten Hut - An amusing audio demonstration showing that intonation (the "melody" of language) is often integral to understanding language. (Requires Real Audio).

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    RELATED INFORMATION:

    Dissecting the Brain with Sound - an article by Shawn Carlson in the "Amateur Scientist" section of Scientific American discusses how auditory illusions can help researchers study how the brain processes information.

    Mysterious Melody - Can you name that tune? Why or why not?
     

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    NO COMPUTERS ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM THESE ACTIVITIES

    Exploratorium Activities and Exhibits (from the Science Explorer, An Exploratorium-at-Home book).
     
    VISION

    Flipsticks: Instructions on make it yourself moving pictures.
    Bubbularium: Make an observatory to see the amazing color in bubbles. Helps to describe that light waves have frequencies that translate into different colors.
    Black magic: Discover the secret colors hidden in a black marker and learn about the process of chromatography.
    Postcard Exhibits - Four traditional optical illusions: The young or old woman; faces or vases; phantom spots; words, color, and color words.
    Bronx Cheer Bulb - Why patterns appear to wiggle when you give them the raspberry.  (Warning: this activity may lead to classroom management difficulties and spread germs!)
     

    HEARING

    Ear guitar: Activity to demonstrate that sound is vibration.
    Secret bells: An ordinary metal spoon makes astounding sounds! Again, sound is vibration.
    CANdemonium: Recycle cans to make a BONKO for great after-dinner music.  The instruments demonstrate that differences in frequency equal differences in pitch.
     

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    STELLAR Activities for the K-14 Classroom - developed by the STELLAR Program at NASA Ames Research Center in collaboration with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. From the home page you can search by grade level for well-developed "activity modules" within eight topics. Four of these topics are directly relevant to the field of neuroscience (especially the study of sensation and perception, balance, orientation, and autonomic nervous system function): 

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    This page contains links to websites useful to educators, scientists, and parents interested in helping K-12 students learn more about the brain, nervous system, and neuroscience research.  If you know of a website you think should be considered for this list, please contact Deborah Colbern, Ph.D. at BEEMNET with your suggestions.  Please note: The appearance of a website on this list in not intended to be an endorsement of the organizations or persons who produced the site nor an affirmation of the information contained therein. 

    This page last modified on February 24, 2001.
    Copyright 2001: BEEMNET, Inc.  All rights reserved.