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Brain Behavior Institute 2008 - Home

Brain and Behavior Institute 2008

Welcome to the home page of the Brain and Behavior Institute at Bryn Mawr College for the year 2008. This Institute (like others in the series) is designed to bring together college faculty and K-12 teachers to discuss current understandings of brain function in relation to behavior ... and the implications of those understandings for classroom teaching and education generally. The Institute, which runs from 7 July to 18 July, is supported by a grant to Bryn Mawr College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and by the College's Center for Science in Society and the Bryn Mawr/Haverford K-16 Collaborations in Science and Mathematics Education.

"Science has the potential to be what we all collectively need as we evolve into a world wide community: a nexus point that encourages and supports the evolution of shared human stories of exploration and growth, an evolution in which all human beings are involved and take pride." - Revisiting Science in Culture

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"For the first time in human history, it is becoming possible to achieve optimal educational environments for all human beings. The web can provide the needed richness, interactivity, and room to explore in a cooperative and collaborative mode." - Serendip Credo on Education and Technology

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The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


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bronstein's picture

Brain stimulator -- electric

Though school has started, I find myself still catching up on my reading.  Here's an interesting article from an old Edutopia that relates directly with what we talked about in the sessions:  How different brain functions take place in different areas of the brain.  But then it goes beyond that well-known fact and says that it is now -- or soon will be -- possible to stimulate different areas to improve their performance.

Will we be facing testing in the future for performance enhancing electrical stimulators to the brain?

Here's the site:

Cynthia Henderson's picture


I wonder if neurotransmitters in young children have a greater bearing on learning than older students?
GMH's picture

Nervous system

The notion of S-R explaination of the function of the nervous system being outmoded is encouraging. The input -output paradigm seems much more useful to educators as it applies to student learning.

If the brain is wired for exploration ( which makes a lot of sense) why are most classrooms designed with students sitting in desks devoid of movement? Classroom management is one of the fine tuned skills teacherrs must work on daily. I wonder how to incorporate more active engagement with students in a social context to more produtively exchange information between the conscious and unconscious processes.

I also wonder how this information about the nervous system impacts on  curriculum areas other than science?

Ayotola Oronti's picture

Animated science site

Concetta Henkel's picture

helpful site7-07-08

brain boosters

I found a website called brain boosters that gives teachers and children a variety of thinking activities.

adiflesher's picture

An introduction of sorts

My name is Adi Flesher. I am a wonderer/wanderer.

I have been among other things, a teacher, soldier, employee of all sorts of failed business ventures, a very bad pool hustler, an even worse Buddhist meditator, and a surprisingly adept builder of mosaics. 

I most recently ran a leadership oriented summer camp for High School students.  

My main question as a scientist, of sorts, is how we can help people deepen their understanding of their own minds.  


Ayotola Oronti's picture

First discussion

My name is Ayotola Oronti, a 4th grade teacher at Feltonville Intermediate School which is part of the School District of Philadelphia.

I describe myself as a practicing scientist in my everyday life. This is because I am a problem solver in every area. Both in my classroom and out in the real world, I am always confronted with problems but a unique feature about me is that I try my best to solve such problems instead of sweeping them under the carpet.

GMH's picture

Brain and Behavior

As a Montessori kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia, I am particularly interested in brain development as it applies to ADHD and ADD students. I am curious to learn how movement in the classroom acts as a vehicle to help anchor and enhance the development of focus in 5 and 6 year olds.

Ayotola Oronti's picture

Brain alongside behavior

Just like you, I have been looking at ways of actually figuring out how the classroom climate can help my students with such conditions as ADHD and the like to learn more and better. Cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, peer tutoring, one-on-one and even medications are some of the tools we have used to help such children but sometimes it looks like something is still missing. I am beginning to think that there may be more to it than meets the ordinary eye. Hopefully this institute experience will help us out.



adiflesher's picture

Attention and a diagnosis

I am wondering if your experience is that ADHD is a useful diagnosis.  My experience is limited to High School students. Many of them self identify as ADHD. Some actually have a diagnosis, others just feel like they struggle with attention.  It seems to me that there is a pretty big continuum regarding attention among kids and that the diagnosis of ADHD does not always help us understand what is going on with kids ability to attend.


I was curious what your experience was with younger kids. Is there a big difference between the ones who have a diagnosis and the ones who don’t?  Are there things that work for both groups that help them learn to attend?

Ayotola Oronti's picture

Re- Attention and a Diagnosis

My experienxe with the younger ones does not show much difference between the diagnosed ones and those that don't have an official diagnosis. To me the only thing I see is that those that have been diagnosed have an official lebel, get away with so many things and may be able to get some help like medication and a TSS because their parents have been open to counselling or something like that. The other group usually gets my attention more because I feel they are less privileged and they do not get all "goodies" the identified group gets:) As per behavior etc, they may not differ!!!

What usually works for both groups is to identify their strengths and work from there. For example I have a student who is very creative and artistic but is seriously deficient in attention. I encourage him to work on the bulletin boards most times, putting everybody's work up in creative ways. You cannot even imagine what this 4th grader comes up with.

For the bigger kids I believe you'll probably be experiencing same thing but with bigger bodies. My husband, {Tunde} teaches in a high school so I know from what he tells me that it is same problems but in different bodies.

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