International School Community Blog

International Primary Curriculum: Children discover first-hand about the brain and learning

Children at The British Embassy School in Ankara, Turkey have been discovering first-hand about the brain and how people learn in, what teacher Tom Henley describes as a “profound learning experience.”

BESA (5) As the Entry Point to their learning with the International Primary Curriculum Brainwave unit, the 8 and 9 year old children from Year 4 took part in a hands-on experience to learn about the composition and layout of the brain.

“We used cow brains from a local Turkish butchers (they are on the menu here)” says Tom, the Year 4 class teacher. “We initially decided on sheep brains which are more common, but they were actually a little too small [for the learning experience].” The children wore science lab coats, glasses and gloves to conduct the investigation and used scalpels for dissection on wooden boards.

The school has a Science lab with a highly qualified specialist teacher and lab assistant who supported Tom with the learning. “They prepared the lab in advance and delivered a presentation on the parts of the brain and how, in very simple terms, the brain works in relation to learning,” explains Tom. “They modelled good lab practice such as how to use a scalpel safely, and wearing safety glasses, gloves and lab coats.”

The children dissected the brains to explore and see for themselves the major areas that had been identified and discussed during the presentation by the Science teacher. “We looked closely at how the brain is connected and in particular why greater surface area (wrinklyness) is a key indicator of greater brain power. Rabbits have quite smooth brains compared to dolphins or humans,” Tom explains.British Embassy School Turkey

“The children were very surprised at how soft the brains were, they expected them to be quite hard and firm,” says Tom. “After some initial squeamishness, they all got stuck in and really enjoyed themselves. It was a profound learning experience. They still talk about it now.”

The British Embassy School in Ankara is one of over 1,500 schools in 85 countries around the world learning with the International Primary Curriculum. The IPC leads children through an engaging learning process that has clear outcomes for academic, personal and international learning. It helps children look at everything they learn through a local and global perspective, developing adaptable, globally-minded learners prepared for the world of tomorrow that they will be living and working in. For more information about learning with the IPC go to