During middle school, students will learn about the complexities of the human body, including the five senses: touch, smell, see, hear, and taste. Activities dealing with the senses will give students a first-hand opportunity to understand how their bodies work and how the senses frequently work together to give the brain the most information possible.
Explain to students that certain parts of our bodies have more nerve endings than others, which gives us a better sense of touch. Illustrate this by having them pair up with partners. Have the first student close his eyes, and allow the partner to gently poke the other student with a ballpoint pen on the palm of his hand. The first student should be able to point exactly to where the other student poked him, but when poked again, on the forearm, the student may not be able to determine the exactly location of the poke.
Conduct a miniature experiment allowing students to smell things that they cannot see. Either blindfold students or hide the objects. Include items that are easily identifiable, such as fruit, and something with an undesirable smell, such as vinegar or burnt popcorn.
Explain that our sense of smell enables us to experience pleasure, such as the aroma of flowers in a garden, but that it can also protect us from danger, such as smelling smoke, or smelling rotten food that might make us sick.
Having two eyes, instead of one, allows our brains to gather more information; we still may have blind spots in our vision, however. Allow students to learn about their blind spots with blind spot test, created by the teacher beforehand or by students in class. Construct the test by drawing a small circle on a piece of paper and then a small “T” about 6 to 8 inches to the right of the circle.
Instruct students to close or cover their right eyes, concentrating on the “T” with their left eyes. A students should slowly move the paper so that it is about 20 inches away from her face; at a certain point she will no longer be able to see the “T” because the shape has gone into the blind spot of their eye’s retina.
Our ears work together to process information in the brain. For this experiment you’ll need several students, a blindfold, and a pen and paper to record information.
Test your students’ sense of hearing by gathering several into a circle. One will be a record keeper, and another should be blindfolded. Students around the circle will randomly clap their hands once, and the blindfolded student will indicate where he thinks the sound came from. Record the accuracy of each student. Make the experiment harder by having the blindfolded student cover one of her ears and identify where the claps came from. After several students have participated, review the test results to verify that two ears are better than one.
Sense of Taste
Although the human tongue is able to determine many different tastes, our brain also relies on our sense of smell to help make determinations. Conduct a taste test by giving blindfolded students small pieces of food, such as potato and apple, and asking them to identify the food. For added accuracy, students should pinch their noses while tasting the food. Students may get some correct, but they will most likely find that their senses work together to give the brain the information it needs.
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