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Activity 6-1: Connecting Your Brain and Muscles

PLAN

Summary Students use their own body as an outline for making a map of the nervous system, showing pathways of sensory and motor neurons. They use these maps to explore and identify nerve connections between the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral regions of the body. With this background, students investigate and determine how a spinal injury might affect the nervous system and body movement.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark identify the sensory and motor areas of the brain responsible for walking and writing (brain, spinal cord, and nerves).

\checkmark trace pathways and direction of nerve impulses moving in sensory and motor nerves (neurons).

\checkmark describe the nerve connections between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.

\checkmark explain the pathway of impulses through a simple reflex arc.

\checkmark explain how a spinal injury might affect the efficiency of the nervous system.

Student Materials

  • Activity Report
  • Colored marking pens (black, yellow, green, and brown); Butcher paper; “Big Brain on a Stick” model (from Activity 2-1); Transparent tape; Colored yarn or string (green and yellow); Meter stick; Text Figure 1.2 on p. 4.

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

Be sure students have completed the text through Section 6. Provide ample floor space by rearranging furniture or using the gym or hallway. You may want to cut large pieces of butcher paper before class. Determine where to store or display completed maps of the nervous system. Gather marking pen sets (black, yellow, green, and brown). If you decide to videotape this activity, have camera and tape available.

Estimated Time Approximately two 50-minute periods

Interdisciplinary

Visual Arts Students can draw and construct the map in art class.

Physical Education Students can connect the nerve pathways on their maps for muscles used in running and walking.

Health Investigate the effects of spinal cord injuries on movement.

Helpful Hints

Students can present their models to the class, adding explanations for locations and functions of sensory and motor neuron pathways.

Final presentations can be videotaped.

Students could present their finished models and explanations at home.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Activity 6-1 by pointing out the role of nerve impulses in connecting muscles with the brain. Remind students to use their text as reference (Section 2 and Figure 5.1).

Step 1-5 This activity can be done in groups of 2 to 4 students. Students may want to check off each completed step on the instruction sheet. In Part B, make sure students write only on the paper. They have less control with their feet and can easily slip off the paper onto the wall.

ASSESS

Use the completed map of the nervous system and written responses on the Activity Report to assess if students can

\checkmark identify the sensory and motor areas of the brain responsible for walking and writing (brain, spinal cord, and nerves).

\checkmark trace the pathways and direction of nerve impulses moving in sensory and motor nerves (neurons).

\checkmark describe the nerve connections between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.

\checkmark explain the pathway of impulses through a simple reflex arc.

\checkmark explain how a spinal injury might affect movement and the efficiency of the nervous system.

Activity 6-1: Connecting Your Brain and Muscles – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. What happens in the sensory areas of the brain to make it possible for you to walk and write?
  2. What happens in the motor areas of the brain that are responsible for walking and writing?
  3. What is represented by each piece of
    1. yellow yarn
    2. green yarn
  4. In which direction are nerve impulses moving in the
    1. sensory nerves:
    2. motor nerves:
    3. spinal cord:
  5. Is it possible for you to move your lower leg without sensory nerve impulses first reaching your brain? Explain, using your model to demonstrate your answer.
  6. Use your “road map of the nervous system” to demonstrate the pathway of nervous impulses involved in
    1. touching a hot stove and suddenly pulling back your hand
    2. feeling the pain of the hot stove and saying, “Ouch!”
  7. A person has a spinal injury causing lack of sensation and paralysis in the legs. The person still has feeling and movement in the arms. Use your road map to explain how this is possible.
  8. Carefully observe your “road map” connecting your brain, nerves, and muscles. How would your describe this “road map” to a friend?
  9. Suggest another way of using your “road map” to help you learn more about how the brain, nerves, and muscles work together.

Activity 6-2: Moving Muscles

PLAN

Summary Students use their “Thinking Caps” from Activity 2-2 to show how their brain tells their muscles to move.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark demonstrate which side of the brain is responsible for movements on each side of the body.

\checkmark distinguish between motor and sensory neuron pathways between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.

\checkmark indicate where synapses occur in the neuron pathways.

Student Materials

  • Activity Report
  • “Thinking Cap” from Activity 2-2
  • Yellow and green yarn
  • Scissors

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Additional student materials
  • “Thinking Cap” models

Advance Preparation

Gather “Thinking Cap” models and students materials.

Use Nervous System Maps from Activity 6-1 (Optional)

Estimated Time 30 minutes to one class period

Interdisciplinary

Health Investigate physical therapy and rehabilitation facilities for patients with nervous system impairment affecting muscles.

Math Contact a local health insurance group to gather information about insurance costs to support a patient with a particular nervous system impairments affecting muscles. Graph this information per month, over the period of typical rehabilitation time.

Social Studies Conduct research to find out about legislation for workplace requirements for employees with nervous system impairments affecting muscles.

Helpful Hints

Review the structure and function of a synapse, the gap between neurons over which neurotransmitters carry information from one neuron to the next neuron.

Have students review the five parts of a reflex.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Activity 6-2 by reviewing with students the parts of the brain and their functions.

Steps 1-3 Have one student put on the “Thinking Cap”. Have the other student point out each brain region and describe its function. Remind students that the “Thinking Cap” represents a map of the cerebrum.

ASSESS

Use the “Thinking Cap” models, the nerve connections, and written answers on the Activity Report to assess if students can

  • demonstrate which side of the brain is responsible for movements on each side of the body.
  • distinguish between motor and sensory neuron pathways between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.
  • indicate where synapses occur in the neuron pathways.

Activity 6-2: Moving Muscles – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. Explain what happens when you touch the yellow yarn on one of your arms or legs.
  2. Explain what happens when you touch the green yarn on one of your arms or legs.
  3. Describe where synapses occur in the pathways you created with the yarn.
  4. Imagine that your friend was not wearing a bike helmet when struck by a speeding car. The accident caused a severe head injury on the right side of the brain, including the ear region. You found out later that your friend has partial paralysis of the left side of the body. Based on what you have learned from this activity, how can you explain this outcome?

A suggested response will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org.

How would drinking alcohol affect your performance in the following activities? What are some things that might happen if you drank alcohol and tried to do these activities?

  • taking a math test
  • riding a bike
  • playing baseball

Activity 6-3: The Nervous System and Muscles Working Together

PLAN

Summary Students explore how the nervous system coordinates the movement of muscles involved in walking and in writing. They relate their investigations to the importance of practice in fine tuning the motor skills involved in dancing and sports.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark explain how the quadriceps and biceps muscles work together to make walking possible.

\checkmark describe how the nervous system regulates leg muscles to enable a person to walk.

\checkmark compare the ease and legibility of writing with the foot and with the hand.

\checkmark describe the importance of practice in improving performance and in compensating for missing capabilities.

Student Materials

  • Activity Report
  • Writing paper; Tape; Marking pens

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

Be sure students have completed the text through Section 6. Provide ample floor space by rearranging furniture or using the gym or hallway. You may want to cut large pieces of butcher paper before class. Determine where to store or display completed maps of the nervous system. Gather marking pen sets (black, yellow, green, and brown). If you decide to videotape this activity, have camera and tape available.

Estimated Time Approximately one 50-minute period

Interdisciplinary Connections

Visual Arts Practice drawing with hand and foot, comparing the results.

Physical Education Graph the effects of practice on improvement of a sports skill. Students can do this activity in PE.

Prerequisites and Background Information

Students should have completed the text through Section 6.

Helpful Hints

  • In answering question 1 on the Activity Report, encourage students to make an animated sequence of walking movements using a computer. Students also can make a hand-drawn series using, for example, a package of “post-its” or 3'' \times 5'' cards.
  • In answering question 7 on the Activity Report, have students do research to learn how physically challenged individuals who, without use of arms or legs, have compensated successfully in writing, drawing, or other activities and sports.

IMPLEMENT

Introduce Activity 6-3 by pointing out the biceps and quadriceps muscles in the thigh. Use Figure 1.2 on p. 4 to demonstrate the location of quadriceps and biceps in the thigh.

Consider organizing class into teams of 2 to 4, with each student rotating through each part of the activity.

Demonstrate (or have a student help you demonstrate) writing on the wall with foot and hand.

Be sure the pieces of paper used for foot writing are large enough so students will not accidentally mark the wall.

If necessary, rearrange classroom furniture to create ample floor and wall space for student writing.

ASSESS

Use the written responses on the Activity Report to assess if students can

\checkmark explain why one muscle contracts (shortens) while the other muscle relaxes (lengthens) in order to make walking possible.

\checkmark demonstrate how the sequence of contracting and relaxing the quadriceps and biceps muscles enables a person to walk.

\checkmark discuss how the cerebrum, cerebellum, and spinal cord regulate the leg muscles to enable a person to walk.

\checkmark demonstrate and explain the differences between writing with a hand and with a foot.

\checkmark communicate the importance of practice to fine-tune motor skills to improve performance and to compensate for certain missing physical abilities.

Activity 6-3: The Nervous System and Muscles Working Together – Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.

Part A Walking Muscles

  1. Make a series of three drawings to show how the quadriceps and biceps muscles work to help you take a step. Be sure to label the muscles.
  2. How do the quadriceps and biceps work together to allow you to walk? You may want to refer to your numbered drawings above to help explain.
  3. Which parts of the nervous system are involved in walking?

Part B Writing Muscles

  1. Think about what happens when you write your name with your foot and compare it to writing with your hand. Which writing was easier to complete and read? Why?
  2. How do you account for your ability to write with greater ease and more legibly now than when you were in the third grade?
  3. How do you account for a person's skill in sports, dance, music, or art?
  4. How can someone who is physically challenged compensate by using the mouth or feet?

What activities are you really good at? Are you good because you have natural talent or because you've worked hard to make the connections between neurons that you need to be successful?

Review Questions/Answers

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. What causes muscles to contract?
  2. How do we learn new movements, such as dance steps or a new piece on the piano?
  3. What role does the cerebellum play in moving muscles?
  4. Do all muscles have the same number of motor neurons? Explain.

Activity 6-1 Report: Connecting Your Brain and Muscles (Student Reproducible)

1. What happens in the sensory areas of the brain to make it possible for you to walk and write?

2. What happens in the motor areas of the brain that are responsible for walking and writing?

3. What is represented by each piece of

a. yellow yarn ______________________________________

b. green yarn ______________________________________

4. In which direction are nerve impulses moving in the

a. sensory nerves

b. motor nerves

c. spinal cord

5. Is it possible for you to move your lower leg without sensory nerve impulses first reaching your brain? Explain, using your model to demonstrate your answer.

6. Use your “road map of the nervous system” to demonstrate the pathway of nerve impulses involved in

a. touching a hot stove and suddenly pulling back your hand

b. feeling the pain of the hot stove and saying, “Ouch!”

7. A person has a spinal injury causing lack of sensation and paralysis in the legs. The person still has feeling and movement in the arms. Use your road map to explain how this is possible.

8. Carefully observe your “road map” connecting your brain, nerves, and muscles. How would you describe this “road map” to a friend?

9. Suggest another way of using your “road map” to help you learn more about how the brain, nerves, and muscles work together.

Activity 6-2 Report: Moving Muscles (Student Reproducible)

1. Explain what happens when you touch the yellow yarn on one of your arms or legs.

2. Explain what happens when you touch the green yarn on one of your arms or legs.

3. Describe where synapses occur in the pathways you created with the yarn.

4. Imagine that your friend was not wearing a bike helmet when struck by a speeding car. The accident caused a severe head injury on the right side of the brain, including the ear region. You found out later that your friend has partial paralysis of the left side of the body. Based on what you have learned from this activity, how can you explain this outcome?

Activity 6-3 Report: The Nervous System and Muscles Working Together (Student Reproducible)

Part A Walking Muscles

1. Make a series of three drawings to show how the quadriceps and biceps muscles work to help you take a step. Be sure to label the muscles.

\#1. && \#2. && \#3.

2. How do the quadriceps and biceps work together to allow you to walk? You may want to refer to your numbered drawings above to help explain.

3. Which parts of the nervous system are involved in walking?

Part B Writing Muscles

4. Think about what happens when you write your name with your foot and compare it to writing with your hand. Which writing was easier to complete and read? Why?

5. How do you account for your ability to write with greater ease and more legibly now than when you were in the third grade?

6. How do you account for a person's skill in sports, dance, music, or art?

7. How can someone who is physically challenged compensate by using the mouth or feet?

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Grades:

6 , 7 , 8

Date Created:

Feb 23, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 29, 2014
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