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STEM: Brain Week

Whilst younger year groups tried to find ‘whodunit’, Year 9 students took part
in the inaugural ‘Brain week’ as part of the Raynes Park Scholars programme.

Although lead by STEM subjects (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths) every subject contributed to give students a broad and meaningful experience.

The week had four main aims:
1. To show students what their brain looks like, how it works, and how to keep it healthy.
2. To develop students’ STEM skills, particularly those associated with design and analysis.
3. To challenge students to make links between traditional school subjects.
4. To inspire and inform students for their future careers.

Across the week students learnt about different parts of the brain by making brain maps and dissecting a sheep’s brain! They explored brain function by investigating inverted drawings, memory, conditioning and the relationship between brain size and intelligence. Students were introduced to a range of neurological and mental health conditions including head injuries, Alzheimer’s, PTSD and Locked In Syndrome. They learnt about efforts to treat these conditions using therapy, food, music and coding.

Mental health is very important to all of us. Students discovered how mental health care was developed in the UK with case studies looking at Bedlam and shellshock (PTSD). Students were also given the opportunity to practice mindfulness to help with their own mental health.

Students were also given a taster lesson for psychology: a subject we offer at A-level. Here they recreated classic experiments exploring memory, conformity and conditioning.

For careers, we highlighted types of therapists, psychologists and neuroscientists. We also highlighted less obvious careers including architecture, fiction writing and fashion, landscape and set design. Students practiced psychoanalysing characters, writing character driven stories, using brain maps to make diagnoses, designing 3D optical illusions and using evidence to make conclusions. 9X1 and 9X2 also put their STEM skills into practice by designing and making equipment that could measure the volume of a
mysterious brain!

Students were fantastic across the week and really engaged with the subject matter. They embodied our three values by being resilient in the face of new challenged, showing respect to remains of dead organisms and getting some amazing results producing stories and models.

Mr J Johnson
Senior Teacher – STEM