On February 28, twenty-five 7th graders travelled just across the neighborhood to visit Baystate Hospital. Led by Ms. Eisermann (7th grade science) and Dr. Eichenlaub (7th grade ELA), the students met with Baystate neurologist Dr. William House, pathologist Dr. Chibuike Enwereuzo, and Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership director, Peter Blain.
The entire 7th grade at Chestnut TAG has been studying the brain in a linked, interdisciplinary unit in their science and ELA classes this winter. After building their background knowledge in brain science in both classes, they are reading deeply about the development of the teenage brain. In the coming weeks, their culminating project in this unit will be to pull all their knowledge of the brain together with the many articles and essays they’ve read to make their own arguments about the proper amount of screen time that a teenager should have each day.
The Baystate field trip gave students the chance to ask questions they wrote in advance to Dr. House. They asked questions such as “Can teens be more mature than adults even with their undeveloped prefrontal cortexes?” Dr. House’s response was an unequivocal ‘Yes!’ Students also asked questions about the brain’s response to peer pressure and how it enables people to sympathize. With pathologist Dr. Enwereuzo, students got to examine a real human brain up close in the lab, locating the brain’s cortical gyri, white matter, and limbic system in an actual specimen.
While Peter Blain led students through the large laboratory where test results are processed at Baystate, the group bumped into Chestnut TAG-graduate, and now lab technician, Manny Parrilla. Brandishing vials of blood that he was testing, he talked with our students enthusiastically about his work and his time at our school. The visit to Baystate was an opportunity not just for our students to learn more about the brain, but also to see pathways for their futures in medicine, right in their own neighborhood.