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Brain Power: Grades 2-3

Procedures/Discussion Questions

  1. Conduct a brainstorming session about how students think messages are carried throughout the body. For example, ask students the following: How does your brain "know" to perform an activity, such as raise your head? When we talk about messages traveling, what do we mean? Do you know what a neurotransmitter is? Write down any ideas students may have. Don't be surprised if they don't know too much about this process.
  2. Before beginning the activity, briefly explain neurotransmission. Explain what the terms "neuron" and "neurotransmission" mean. You may want to show the first part of the DVD to accomplish this goal.
  3. Tell each group of nine students to go to an activity area. In each area, have three students sit in each masking-tape outlined area. Tell them that they are a neuron team and give each student a Neuron Team sign. Each group of three represents one neuron.
  4. Designate one student at each area as the neurotransmitter student. Have each neurotransmitter student sit in the space between the rows of masking tape. Give the neurotransmitter students their signs.
  5. Then designate one student at each area as a person with a sore foot and one student as the brain, where the information is processed. The sore foot student should stand at one end of the neurons, and the brain should stand at the other end. (Refer to diagram 3a.)
  6. Hand the student with the sore foot the message that says, "Why does my foot hurt?" Have the student begin the activity by pretending to have a sore foot. Then have the "foot" student hand the message to the first member of the neuron team.
  7. Have the students quickly send the message down the line of neuron team members. The last student hands the message to the neurotransmitter student. After receiving the message, he or she gets up and hands it to the next neuron team. This neuron team leads to the brain. When the message reaches the last member of the neuron team, he or shegets up and hands the message to the student pretending to be the brain. (Refer to diagram 3b.)
  8. When the "brain" receives the message, that student quickly exchanges it for the message saying, "Sit down. You hurt your foot on a tack." The message then proceeds down the line of students back to the student with a sore foot.
  9. When the student with the sore foot reads the message, he or she discovers why his or her foot hurts and what to do about it. (Refer to diagram 3c.)
  10. Have students go through the simulation one more time. They may want to switch roles the second time around or think of other messages to send.

Diagram 3a
Diagram 3a
Diagram 3b
Diagram 3b
Diagram 3c
Diagram 3c

Discussion Questions

  1. Using the simulation, have the students describe how they think messages travel throughout the body. Give several students an opportunity to explain the process in their own words.
  2. Have the students think of different kinds of messages that travel throughout their bodies. Examples include the following:
    • What am I touching?
    • What is that sound?
    • Is the water hot or cold?  
  3. To reinforce what students learned, show the second segment of the DVD again. Then have the students figure out which part of the brain the message is going to. They may want to identify each section on their models of the brain.

This page was last updated September 2012

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NIDA (2012). Brain Power: Grades 2-3. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/brain-power/brain-power-grades-2-3

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NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

Brain Power Video Modules: Grades 2-3