If microbiology seems like a tough subject to teach third graders, consider that the previous unit tackled neurobiology. "Science is fun because it is the only way to verify things in the world around us," says Stephen Yezerinac, the Reed faculty member who gave direction to the topic. "Animal behavior and neurobiology are some of the best ways to show this."
In one neurobiology experiment, children mapped the taste buds on their tongues. In a second, they studied the taste preferences of flies. "We told them that flies are able to taste sweet, proteins, water, things like that," says volunteer Cilicia Dorn-Lopez, a freshman biology major. "The children worked together making hypotheses about what flies would like and why. They were very intent on collecting data. At the end, they presented their findings and displayed 10 things they learned on posters."
The dissection of a sheep's brain was an additional and wildly popular part of the neurobiology unit. "They loved it," says freshman chemistry major Rachael Relph. "The boys especially wanted to touch it. They wanted to know if their brains looked like that. We showed them where information from each of the five senses was processed."