Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Activities for Watching the brain working

Here are activities to help with the teaching of this topic.

The whole brain
This activity gives students practice in recognising that different parts of the brain have different functions, using a set of short case studies of people with brain damage. They also identify the different regions of the brain involved in playing music. They are not expected to recall this information.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (60 KB)

The Mozart effect
The so-called Mozart Effect is the idea that listening to Mozart’s music improves IQ. It has been popularised in the media and the activity looks at the link between the original science and its public promotion and modification. A procedure is suggested by which students plan and carry out an experiment to test the Mozart Effect in class, helping them to devise and to evaluate experimental methods.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.2 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (90 KB)

Using fMRI
This activity uses a fictional example to consider how fMRI is used to identify the region of the brain that is active during a particular experience. It should help students understand some of the main stages involved in going from human experience to publishable results.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (48 KB)

Exam style question - Sleep for success?
This is an exam style question based on research using fMRI to investigate the effect of sleep on learning. Students have to interpret and evaluate the published results.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.8 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (81 KB)

Which brain scan technique?
This activity aims to introduce students to different brain scanning techniques and their applications. Groups of students will produce posters describing and evaluating the different techniques, for display in the classroom.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.0 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (36 KB)

Case study – racism in the brain
This activity explores one way in which fMRI has been used to investigate the affect of racism on brain functioning. Students have to read one scientific paper and three articles that describe or discuss the work and its conclusions. This allows students to learn about a controversial application of fMRI and to practice for the Unit 4 exam.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.5 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (65 KB)

Individual differences
This activity is designed to help students think about the differences between good science and pseudoscience. They also review some ideas about chance variation and probability. Their interest is gained by asking them to carry out some widely available tests on aspects of their own brain’s characteristics, some in the classroom and some online. They analyse their group’s data and consider the validity of such tests.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (80 KB)

Problem based learning: Persistent Vegetative State
This is a problem based learning activity. Students consider a fictional scenario from the point of view of the parents of a young woman diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.8 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (70 KB)

Exam style question - Diagnosing autism
Note that this activity, while being in the style of the Unit 3 exam, has not been subject to the careful evaluation and revision of questions undertaken by AQA during the preparation of operational exam papers.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.4 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (58 KB)