Over the past couple weeks, we’ve learned about the nervous system with our Apologia Human Anatomy and Physiology curriculum. (You can read about it HERE and HERE.) This week, we learned how the nervous system works with our senses to learn about the world around us.
This was a fun week because of all the possibilities for hands-on activities. Here are some experiments and activities that we tried and some others that we have on the list to do this weekend.
Sense Of Hearing
We hear because sound waves travel through the air until they hit the ear drum. The sound waves vibrate the eardrum, which in turn, vibrates the bones of the middle ear. These vibrations are transfered to the cochlea, located in the inner ear. The cochlea translates those vibrations into stimuli that the ocular nerve can send to the brain.
It all starts with sound waves and the eardrum. To demonstrate how sound can actually be a physical force, you can do this simple experiment.
- plastic wrap
- 20 or so uncooked rice grains
- large bowl
- cookie sheet or metal baking pan
Stretch the plastic wrap over the bowl tightly. This is your eardrum. Place 20 or so rice grains on the tightened plastic wrap. Hold the pan or cookie sheet close to the blow, but not touching. Bang on the pan with your hand or large spoon making a loud noise. Watch the rice. It should jump each time you bang on the pan. The sound waves created should vibrate the plastic wrap making the rice move. Sound can be a physical force.
Sense Of Touch
The sense of touch can be used all over the body. We have touch receptors just under our skin that give us lots of information. If you want to test someone’s sense of touch, make a touch box. Get a box with a lid and cut a hole in the side just large enough to fit your hand. Choose various, safe objects of various textures that will fit easily into the box. (cotton ball, rock, rubber ball, tree bark, a sponge, an apple…) Place one object in the box at a time, but don’t let the other person see. Allow the person to put their hand through the hole and try and guess what they are feeling.
Sense Of Sight
Our eyes work together to allow us to see. To test how they work together you will need:
- 4 pennies
- a paper cup
Set the paper cup on a table about 2 feet in front of your subject who should be sitting in a chair at the table. Have the person cover one eye. Hold a penny in your hand about 1.5 feet above the table. Slowly move your hand in front of, in back of and to the sides of the paper cup. When, the person thinks you are above the cup, have them say “Drop”.
Drop the penny. Do this again with one eye covered and then with both eyes open. Which way is easier? Your eyes work together for proper depth perception. Using both eyes should be easier to determine when the penny was above the cup.
Sense Of Taste
The sense of taste comes from taste receptors on your tongue. However, your taste is, also, influenced by your sense of smell. To test this you will need life saver candies of various flavors and a partner. Have your partner hold his or her nose. Give the lifesavers one at a time to your partner. Don’t let them see what color it is. Have them try to guess the flavor. Record the answers. Do the experiment again but with the nose unplugged. Which way made it easier to determine the flavor?
Sense Of Smell
We had fun testing our sense of smell this week. Using small bowls with various odor producing substances in our house and a blindfold, we conducted our smell test.
The bowls were held under the blindfolded subject’s nose. The subject tried to guess what they were smelling. We used hand soap, hot sauce, pickle juice and an orange.
More Science Saturday
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