These workshops were offered at Peirce Elementary School in as a ten week 5th grade classroom project and as an after-school program.
Students 5th grade students in a Peirce Elementary School classroom and in and after-school program participated in ten weeks of experiential anatomy workshops offered by NeuroKitchen Arts Collective. The project "Curiosity Club: Alive Inside" was designed and taught by Anita Evans. It was supported by a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
The main goals of the workshop were for the students:
to test things out for themselves - to take responsibility for their own education
to participate with the right energy and right effort - not trying too hard which leads to frustration, and not giving up too soon which leads to boredom,
to practice deepening awareness by settling the random thoughts and distractions racing in the mind by focusing on breath.
Each workshop began with breathing meditation bringing awareness to the workshop focus of the day. After we settled into our breath and body, we moved into self-directed research where students read books or printouts to gather information and then shared it with their peers. We studied eyes, nose, ears, tongue, brain, heart, lungs, and muscles & bones. After research and discussion, we did a project experiment. For example, we used flashlights to watch each other's pupils dilate, made a model lung out of a water bottle and two balloons, smelled mysterious smells and explored what memories they brought up, and a big class favorite was tasting different food with our nose plugged to see if we could taste the difference.
Here are some of the student's thoughts about the workshops:
"What I liked best is doing discussion. I liked it because you can hear facts from people."
"Taste was the best because we got to try new foods and mixing like we mixed mint with water."
"I like the bone part in class because I really learned what's in my body. "
"My favorite one was the eye because there was so much stuff I did not know that I learned on that day. Like that when you put a light on your pupil it grows smaller but when you don’t it grows bigger."
"I loved the brain because I liked the story of guy that had that terrible accident. I learned so much too."
"The heart was my favorite thing to do because I could feel it pumping."
"My favorite was lungs because we made a model of the lungs by using a water bottle, a white balloon, and a blue balloon. And we got to drink a full bottle of water."
"Meditation felt really nice and it helped me learn stuff in life."
"Meditation was hard at first because it took a very long time to settle my thoughts."
"Something that I learned is that you really have to concentrate to feel your inner self."
"I like that I can find my breath."
"I learned that you can always control the bad thoughts."
"I like moving and getting everything out of my head."
"I liked how in meditation you get calm and peaceful"
"I loved how it was so peaceful and quiet to get your distraction our of the way"
"I learned that if you are really relaxed and you are focusing on your breathe you can actually achieve thinking about nothing." "I learned that when I meditate all my thoughts clear."
"What I leaned was clearing my mind and leaving the noise out of my mind."
"I think that when you meditate you think about what you live in and what you say, do and love. Meditation is really no noise, so noiseless."
Feeding hungry minds one curious moment at a time.