Virtual Science & Tech Classes

Physiology 101: An Overview of the Human Body

Instructor: Ugochukwu “Ugo” Emmanuel Okolie

Course Description: Physiology 101 is an exploration into the human body and the many systems that keep our bodies in the state of equilibrium known as homeostasis. In this course, students will gain an appreciation for the biological system of checks and balances that maintains this internal equilibrium despite an ever-changing environment. First, we’ll dive into the cardiovascular system and discover how the heart pushes blood through the arteries, delivering oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-starved organs and muscles during exercise. Then, the class will explore how insulin-producing cells of the pancreas regulate the body’s blood sugar after a high-carb meal. Next, students will learn how the white blood cells of the immune system release bacteria-killing chemicals to fight off microscopic invaders after a student falls off their bike and scrapes their knees. Lastly, we’ll consider how the pineal gland of the brain secretes melatonin after a late night playing Fortnite with fellow classmates! Physiology 101 will inspire students to think of the human body as an integration of beautifully designed systems that harmonize together to maintain order within. By developing this appreciation, we hope to bring biology class to life and unlock the wonders of homeostasis!       

Coding Cadets: An Introduction to Python Computer Programming

Instructor: Randy Ellis

Course Description: Coding Cadets will introduce young learners to the wild and wonderful world of Python programming, as well as empower students to analyze real data to hunt for exoplanets! The course will begin with computer science fundamentals to provide an understanding of what a computer program is, what a program can do, and how to build a program. Next, students will be introduced to the basics of data analysis and visualization, using datasets from NASA’s Kepler space telescope to determine which space signals indicate an undiscovered exoplanet. We hope this course offering will inspire our students to appreciate computer programming and data analysis as important tools for their futures in any career path, while embarking on a celestial adventure they won’t soon forget!

Young Minds: An Introduction to Neuroscience

Instructor(s): Catharine Mielnik, Ph.D; Jacqueline-Marie Ferland, Ph.D

Course Description: Young Minds is an early exploration into the vast world of brain science! The course will begin with the brain cell (neuron) and how its structure allows it to electrically and chemically communicate with other cells within its neural circuit. We will then consider specific regions of the brain and the pathways responsible for carrying out everyday human experiences like riding a bike, enjoying the sweet taste of ice cream, playing catch with a friend, and much more. The course will wind down with insights into how normal brain functions are disrupted in the case of brain injury, as seen in concussions and other traumatic brain injuries. Young Minds aims to equip students with the knowledge necessary to navigate the dynamic nature of the brain in its role as the control center for all human functions and experiences! By doing so, we hope to engage our students by bringing middle school science curriculums to life, as students learn how the structure of brain cells facilitates the passing and integration of information the brain receives from the outside world.

Neuro 201: Is the Human Brain Plastic?

Instructor: Emmy Sakakibara, M.S.

Course Description: Neuro 201 is an exploration of the complex networks within the human brain, networks that are constantly reshaping and rewiring to meet the demands of a developing brain in a dynamic environment. We call this phenomenon brain plasticity, or the brain’s capacity to be malleable and plastic-like to facilitate learning a new language, perfecting the crossover move at basketball practice, or acing the AP exam after months of rigorous studying! In this course, students will first develop an understanding of brain cell structure. Students will then learn about the billions of connections a brain cell forms with neighboring cells and how these connections form the massive brain network that is constantly reshaping to help us function, adapt, and learn! The course will then transition into the many facets of healthy brain function facilitated by brain plasticity, such as language development, learning, memory, aging, and recovery from brain injury. Neuro 201 will equip students with the tools necessary to navigate the dynamic nature of the brain in its role as the control center for human growth and development. During this course, we hope to provoke students’ intrigue into their middle school science curriculums by building insight into the role brain plasticity plays in their personal development as students, athletes, and young adults.

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