Jul 1, 2010 by Norene Wiesen
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promoting brain fitness in the classroomWe asked members of the WeAreTeachers.com(WAT) Brain Research Microcommunity to submit ideas for keeping their students’ brains fit.  All entries were reviewed and voted on by the WAT community for a chance to receive one of five Science of Success microgrants.  We received over 178 entries, and are pleased to share the five peer-selected winners and their project proposals for promoting brain fitnessin the classroom:


1) Jason Dietrich, Illini Central High School: Engineering in the Classroom with LEGO NEXT and Carnegie Mellon Curriculum
The purpose of this project is to engage students in open-ended design problems using current technology in robotics research and college academic work. Activities involved in this project will challenge students to develop critical scientific inquiry skills and apply these skills in technological design. Specifically, students will: Write programs for the LEGO NXT Intelligent Brick using LEGO Mindstorms Educational Software 1.1 [Powered by National Instruments Lab View Software]   Full proposal.

2) Don Sarazen, H.B. Rhame Elementary School: Are They Really "Double Stuffed?"
My idea is to have my students remove the cream from a regular Oreo cookie and a Double Stuf Oreo cookie, measure the mass of both cream samples, and determine if a Double Stuf Oreo really has twice as much cream as a regular Oreo. They will do this using triple beam balance scales and electronic scales that measure to the nearest tenth of a gram. Description: My students will then write letters to report the results of their investigation to Kraft Foods, the company that makes Oreos.  Full proposal.

3) Melissa Wlodarski, Eggers Middle School: Brain Yoga...starting our day the SMART way!
Description: Science has proven that completing certain activities every day will help keep our students minds sharp, and improve memory. For this program, students will participate in various "brain yoga" activities during their homeroom period each morning. These activities will include: activating pressure points, which are proven to increase energy and improve attention span (particularly good for students with ADHD), writing activities, and various right brain/left brain activities to start the day.  Full proposal.

4) Gail Feely, Caldwell Elementary: Growing Algae in the Classroom, an Alternate Energy Source
My students will learn about algae as a unicellular living organism and also as an alternate energy source. We will set up a controlled photo bioreactor in which to grow algae. I have met with a local alternate energy team who is willing to work with my students in building a photo bioreactor made of PVC pipe. I think this will be an amazing experience for my students as well as the local team. It will be a trial and error project to find ideal growing conditions to reproduce algae.  Full proposal.

5) Lynn Farr, Martin Elementary: What's the Matter: Weekly class for hands-on science fun
Description: I would like to provide EVERY student from grades K-5 in our school the opportunity to explore matter through hands-on science fun. After a 6 week instruction period on grade-level science standards, students will participate in a "make-and-take" project supporting lessons and concepts learned. Ideas include: Lava lamp, blubber, rocket, sedimentary rocks... Full proposal.

Each winner receives a FlipVideo™ camera or an iPodNano® to capture their project in action. Congratulations to all!

All 178 entries can be viewed in the WAT's Scientific Learning Teacher Grantpage.