How does your brain control your body?
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TRY THIS OUT! Look below for tips. Then go to the next slide.

Hole in Hand demonstration

  • Keep both eyes open — with one eye looking through the tube and the other eye looking at your hand.
  • Keep your hand right against the tube.
  • Try different distances between your hand and your eye.
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DISCUSS:

Why did it look like there was a hole in your hand? Any ideas?

Hint...

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QUICK EXPERIMENT (PART 1 of 4)
Teacher: choose a volunteer to quickly read these words out loud to the class.

Stroop Effect Test

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QUICK EXPERIMENT (PART 2 of 4)
Teacher: have the same volunteer say the COLOR of each word out loud. What do you notice?

Stroop Effect Test

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QUICK EXPERIMENT (PART 3 of 4)
Now everyone try! Get into partners. Listen as your partner reads the words out loud. Then switch jobs.

Stroop Effect Test

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QUICK EXPERIMENT (PART 4 of 4)
Now listen as your partner says the COLOR of each word. Make sure they get them all right! Then switch jobs.

Stroop Effect Test

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DISCUSS:

Which task was harder--reading the words, or saying the colors?


Why do you think that one was so hard to do?

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration which you just completed.

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Readings:

These Common-Core-aligned readings are free with registration on ReadWorks. All readings include comprehension questions.

  • The Human Body You’ve Got Some Nerve! — Nerves carry information to your brain. (Grade 3)
  • What’s Inside? — What does your brain do? (Grade 5)
  • Rise up — This lengthy article describes how a car accident paralyzed a man and how a medical treatment enabled him to stand and take steps again. (Grade 5)
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Activity: Catch a dollar bill

dollardrop Try the “Think Fast” activity again -- but instead of a ruler, use a dollar bill. Start with the catcher’s thumb and finger in the middle of the bill. Remind the catcher that they can’t move until they SEE the bill drop.

The typical human reaction time is about ¼ second. That’s long enough for the 6-inch bill to fall completely through the catcher's fingers!

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Online resources — Test your reflexes

These online simulations let you find out how quickly you can react in two very different situations.

  • Slap Shot lets you practice reacting like a hockey goalie. Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to choose where to block (left, right, up, or down).

  • Zap a Fly lets you see how you'd do as a hungry frog, trying to catch a fly for dinner. Test your reflexes with sight and with sound.

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Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students explore the brain’s role in receiving information from the senses, processing that information, and controlling the muscles to enable movement. In the activity, Think Fast!, students test their reflexes with two very quick experiments and one more involved activity. They learn about how we process information in our brains and then respond to that information in different ways.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Blank Paper (8.5 x 11")
1 sheet per student
Rulers
1 ruler per pair
Think Fast! printout 1 per student
Prep Instructions

We recommend students work in pairs. Homeschool students will need a partner for the activities.

Each pair of students will need a table or desk.

Extensions
Download this Mystery to your device so you can play it offline: