Want to shake up your science lesson? We have the activity for you! This activity can be done with our “How Do Neurons Communicate” video or PowerPoint presentation found on our website (hyperlink to the How Do Neurons Communicate page on website). The goal of this activity is to illustrate how neurons make connections with each other to pass along signals. One neuron can be connected to thousands of other neurons, forming a neuronal network.
To start, get everyone to join hands in a line. Starting at one end, get the student to squeeze the hand on the person next to them, when they feel the squeeze they squeeze the hand of the person next to them and so on. Ask the following questions and provide answers below.
1) Can they pass signals faster? How fast do signals in the brain travel?
Answer: up to 100-150 m/s depending on the source you read.
2) What happens if one person doesn’t squeeze the next person’s hand?
Answer: the signal will not be sent down that pathway that lies next.
3) How can neurons send signals to many different places at once?
Answer: With branching. Neurons can connect with multiple other neurons, not just one at a time. You can repeat the activity with a branch point (one person grabbing two people’s hands and sending the “signal” one or both ways) to introduce the concept of a network.
Note: Some students may suggest that the signals travel at the speed of light. This is not true; neuronal signals travel much slower.