George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Is there anything as mysterious and intriguing as the human brain? It's at the center of everything we do and everything we've created, and yet we're just beginning to understand how it works. Brain Awareness Week is coming on March 10th - 16th -- a campaign to promote the value of brain research -- so I've gathered some fascinating videos to help us explore how we're wired. I'm no scientist, but I do know that as the field of neuroscience advances and new discoveries are made, the implications for teaching and learning get more compelling. So enjoy this little primer on brains and get your thinking caps on!

Video Playlist: A Celebration of the Brain

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on​ ​​​​​​YouTube.


  1. What If We Could Look Inside Human Brains? -- Moran Cerf (03:56)

    TED-Ed just keeps putting out amazing animated lessons. In this one, neuroscience professor Moran Cerf shares insights about the human brain gleaned from epilepsy patients undergoing surgery. Explore the full lesson.

  2. The Story of the Brain -- Dara O Briain's Science Club (03:16)

    This delightfully animated short is excerpted from a series by BBC Two that aims to explain complex science concepts in an engaging way. I'd watch it for Dara's Irish accent alone, but it's also a wonderful history of human exploration of the brain.

  3. Born to Learn (04:56)

    Here's a tour of how your brain changes from infancy to adulthood, making the case for play as the most critical element for learning in childhood and risk-taking as the most essential one for adolescence.

  4. Ode to the Brain! (03:42)

    I've long been a fan of Symphony of Science remixes, so I couldn't resist including this piece, which makes Carl Sagan, Jill Bolte Taylor, and Oliver Sacks sing. Want more autotuned mashups? Check out my Five-Minute Film Festival inspired by creator John D. Boswell.

  5. How Youth Learn -- Ned's Gr8 8 (06:13)

    While this animated piece strays to the dorky side here and there, it packs in some really useful information about eight conditions that help the teenage brain learn better. Produced by youth voice org What Kids Can Do, which offers more resources on their spinoff site, How Youth Learn.

  6. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (03:54)

    Epipheo is a maker of excellent explainer videos of all kinds. With the help of author Nicholas Carr, Epipheo bravely delves into a question all of us are wondering about -- exactly what is the Internet doing to our brains?

  7. Seven "Facts" About The Brain That Are Not True (01:51)

    Finally, let's get rid of some popular misconceptions. Do we really only use 10% of our brains? Buzzfeed debunks seven popular brain myths in less than two minutes, and to a swingin' tune, no less!

More Resources on Brain-Based Learning

If you're intrigued by the potential learning applications of neuroscience, but find it hard to trust what's valid and what's marketing hooey -- you're not alone. Start with Edutopia's brain-based learning resource roundup, and then poke around in this short list of interesting places to find out more about neuroscience. And if your brain is overflowing after all that and you just need a laugh, check out this secret bonus clip of John Cleese explaining how the brain works.

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I love this! I also use a book called Mind Hacks- which explores all sorts of brain based thinking and quirks, as well as how to get around them- it's endlessly fascinating, and fun things to share with kids- like the auditory and visual loops in working memory-

There are reasons why you can multitask some things, liek talking on the phone and doing the dishes, but not talk on the phone and read or write emails- you can only process one language based task at a time, and that can be incredibly powerful information for everyone to remember!

I hope everyone takes the time not only to watch these videos but also learn more about how the brain works and develops- especially the changes kids go through, just so we set reasonable expectations for when they have the brain "hardware" to run the "software" we expect them to in class.

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