Pulteney is a school that values wellbeing. Our Pulteney developed Attributes of Wellbeing outline the importance of a number of factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. Our Year 6 students recently participated in a conference day with one of our professional wellbeing service team members, Annecke Redelinghuys. The following reflection outlines the objectives and students perspectives of the day. Thank you to Annecke, the Year 6 teaching team and most of all the Year 6 students for their participation in the day.

Neuroscience and Learning Conference - 2020

The Year 6 students had the privilege to participate in their first Neuroscience and Learning Conference on 11 February 2020. This is the first of a series of conferences that will take place during the course of the year.

The main objective is for students to learn more about their brain and how their understanding thereof, can positively impact their learning (academic performance) as well as their mental wellbeing. Research has shown that there is a significant link between Neuroscience and Learning. As the brain is the seat of all emotions, thoughts and behaviour, their understanding of the brain can help them to self-regulate and control these aspects. This can support positive development of their mental health and wellbeing and enhance and optimise their potential.

During the first conference, the students learnt about Brain Basics such as:

  • What the brain looks like externally / internally
  • Structure and functions of neurons (brain cells)
  • How neurons communicate and form networks (synapses, neurotransmitters)
  • Who am I (thoughts, experiences, dreams, memories, knowledge)
  • Thoughts (what they are, thinking patterns, neural pathways)
  • Can the brain change (neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, FMRI scans, environment)
  • Major changes in the teenage brain (pruning and myelination)
  • How “reliable” is the brain

The students enjoyed different activities during the day. For example, they had to “connect dots” in order to simulate the connections that neurons make in the brain. They also did a memory exercise to determine how good their memories are and they built a neuron with playdough. The students asked many questions and could share their own thoughts and perspectives. At the end of the day, they participated in a quiz during which they could earn house points.

Mr King was turned into a human neuron!  Annecke placed a helmet on his head that had cable ties sticking up, which represented the dendrites of a neuron. He had a “ping-pong-ball-nose” that represented the nucleus, toilet paper around his body (myelin) and his toes represented the axon terminals (which by the way, were painted!)

Here is what some of the students had to say:

“The activity I enjoyed the most was the one where we learnt about neurons communicating. They got us to draw 10 lines from 10 different dots each. Then after the 100 lines were drawn, the presenter explained the link between the lines and how the neurons communicate. Understanding the brain is very complex and illustrates how amazing our brains can be. I understand that it is important to understand the brain because it could help us in future situations.” – Olivia Purdie

“In week 3, year 6 had a brilliant neuroscience conference learning all about the brain. I feel it is very important to know how your and other brains work because our brains are developing and gathering a large amount of information. I learnt a lot during the full day experience of neuroscience, including neurons and how they work, brain facts, how the brain stores things and many other interesting facts. I enjoyed making neurons out of play-dough which was difficult but achievable. I also really enjoyed learning new facts about the brain, they were very interesting. Another good thing was Mr King’s “dad jokes” about the brain which were very funny.” – Archie Shaw

Although it was a long day that was packed with new information, the students reported that they had a great experience and that they are looking forward to the next conference.

Steve McCulloch

Head of Student Wellbeing