MILWAUKEE — On March 22, first-grade students from the Racine Unified School District Montessori program headed off to the Medical College of Wisconsin to participate in a field trip they had been excited about for nearly a month.
All students prepared to present their own brain research projects. For about one month prior to the outing, the 6- and 7-year-old students had been immersed in multidisciplinary learning projects that encompass biology, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, informational writing and nonfiction reading and research.
During the morning portion of the field trip, the students visited four lab stations (the neuron, brain anatomy including a sheep brain dissection, the visual system and sensory-motor integration) staffed by Assistant Professor of Neurology and neuroscientist Dr. Leonardo Fernandino and graduate students in the field of neuroscience from both the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
In the afternoon, the RUSD Montessori students presented their own research in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s science laboratory rooms. Prior to the day of the trip, each student chose their own research topic, chose how they wanted to work (in a collaborative group or independently), composed an informational paragraph about their topic and decided how they wanted to display the details of their presentations (ranging from sculpting models of cerebellum, making illustrations of neurons, creating a spinal cord out of clay and test tubes of cerebral spinal fluid and more).
All RUSD Montessori neuroscience student researchers received feedback on their presentations from neuroscientists, medical school graduate students, RUSD Montessori teachers and parent chaperones.
Students received very positive feedback from the Medical College of Wisconsin including that they were very knowledgeable about their research topics, very courteous and super smart. Their written feedback comments included: “Excellent teamwork!” “Loved the fun facts!” “Lots of good illustrations!”