Liewicki leaks: Learning something new

Nathan Liewicki
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The pathways in my brain were working overtime Monday.

Prairie South School Division's Carla Hildebrandt (middle) and Heather Hobbs conduct their Brainia Mania presentation with a class of Grade 5 and 6 students at Mossbank School on Monday.

It wasn’t because I was putting in another long day, or that I’d just driven from Caronport to Mossbank.

Growing up I was always taught that you learn something new everyday. Many people use that expression every day in every city across our country and beyond.

As I feverishly scribbled a jargon of notes in Mossbank School’s Grade 5/6 class, I was struck by the knowledge of the 11 children in that classroom.

Learning about their brains in the second of three, one-hour sessions with two Prairie South School Division Learning Support Team (LST) members, the students floored me with their knowledge of the brain.

I’ll be honest, before I stepped foot in that classroom I didn’t even know occipital and parietal lobes were part of the human brain.

Not to toot my own horn, but this coming from a guy who is nearly 26 years old and has a pair of university degrees.

Granted, biology was never my strong suit in high school or university, but I thought I knew my brain fairly well — at least enough to get by.

It turns out I was wrong in that supposition.

In simplified terms, the occipital lobe is responsible for vision, or as one student put it: “The eyes in the back of your head.” It is after all, located in the back section of your brain.

The parietal lobe is responsible for touch. So when you pound the table in disgust that you also didn’t know what the parietal lobe was, that’s the part of your brain reacting.

Although the students’ knowledge of their brains amazed me, it was the outward excitement they expressed on their faces and through the activities they participated in that especially impressed me.

There are stories of school being boring and kids who just don’t want to be in the classroom working on their spelling and science skills, but Mossbank’s Grade 5/6 proved to me that those stories are the farthest thing from the truth.

It was inspiring.

The icing on my inspired cake came when Carla Hildebrandt, an LST member, held up a bottle with a glittery liquid.

Perplexed by what this bottle had to do with the brain, I stood back and listened as the students described how shaking the bottle could apply to different activities the brain conducts; as well as which of the brain’s lobes would be affected by such an action.

One student told Hildebrandt that when the bottle is shaken, all the glitter inside it acts like neurons in the brain, processing and transmitting information.

In my notebook I immediately wrote down: “Damn, kids are smart.”

Did I even begin to learn about neurons in Grade 5 or 6?

I don’t believe so. But this one student was smart enough to take an example of an object and apply it to the function of the brain.

That was remarkable and I was awestruck at the student’s intelligence.

Mossbank’s Grade 5/6 class most definitely helped me learn something new on Monday.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Mossbank School

Geographic location: Mossbank, Caronport

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