The cross-section human brain model by Learning Resources, is a great prop for science classes, especially middle school to early high school years. We are studying the brain in middle school science presently, and the students really, really, like to have the hands on feel of the brain, as we study the subject. It makes a big difference in learning, to be able to touch something so mysterious and somewhat lifelike. Also, to have a cross-section model of the brain that can come apart, helps a student very much, to be able to remember the inner workings of the brain.
Strong points of this unit are that it weighs about the exactly the same as a real human brain and it is the same size as the human brain. This is an awesome thing to contemplate, even for a teacher, that here in your hands, is what it is behind the master works of thousands of skilled artists, scientists, poets, etc. How could so much come from something so small? It is rather awesome, and kids as well are facinated.
The feeling and touching helps memory, making a subject which might be dry for some, to come to life. Whatever subject on is teaching, the somewhat lifelike props make a huge difference. Visual/hands-on, makes learning much more memorable.
Most students don’t have a problem learning where the frontal lobe is, but when they start to get into the medulla, or even something simple as where sight is processed in the brain, many students very quickly forget lectures and even illustrations. Try telling the student that the saying, “You have eyes in the back of your head, is really true,” and they will get the idea that our vision is processed at the back of the brain, rather than the front.
Additionally, by the student actually feeling the area of the brain where vision is processed, by touching the cerebellum in the model, and learning it’s function, the information and facts will not be lost. By seeing a 3D model of the brain stem and feeling it, while learning its basic functions has a huge advantage in terms of memory retention than a dry lecture of a ditto.
The disadvantages or weak points of this model is that it is only the brain. If it came in a skull, where it could be pulled out, that would make the unit all the more attractive. However, to help to teach a middle school student with an economically priced model, this is great. The brain model that one uses could always be more complex than what one uses, but for most of us this is fine. Also, some students used it in our class as a football, and one “stole” it temporarily, traveling down the hall, until another student returned it. That also needs to be considered.
I feel that using models, props, drawings, visuals, overheads and films, help a great deal for the student to remember, to take note, to learn, and to benefit from his or her education. In studying the brain, props and pictures are necessary and helpful. The information has to come alive for the student for it to be retained.
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