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WDC students learn about brain from med student

University of Minnesota-Duluth medical student Britta Knutson conducts a brain exercise with WDC student Katelyn Windels Tuesday in Robby Grendahl's psychology class.

For some students it was "cool," and "gross" for others. But the one thing Wadena-Deer Creek students did agree on -- seeing a real human brain was an extraordinary experience.

University of Minnesota-Duluth medical student Britta Knutson spent a few hours at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School Tuesday, where she visited fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms, as well as Robby Grendahl's psychology class.

Her focus: giving students a chance to be neuroscientists and ask questions about the brain. She conducted a variety of brain-awareness exercises with students that demonstrated the functions of the brain.

Knutson also brought along a real mouse brain for students to view and compare in size to a real human brain.

WDC fifth-grader Tess Jones said the mouse brain was "really cool because it was so tiny." When Knutson displayed the human brain, Jones was surprised at its size and she simply described the experience of seeing the human brain as "different" but "cool."

WDC junior Aaron Anderson plans to pursue a career in nursing. He said the presentation was extremely interesting to him. "The best part was seeing the human brain. I was actually surprised at the size of it. I thought it would be bigger," Anderson said, adding, "It was very cool."

WDC Social Studies teacher Robby Grendahl said Knutson's visit was timely. Grendahl teaches psychology to juniors and seniors and they've been studying how the brain sends messages throughout the human body. They are about to begin the next unit on the brain's anatomy, and seeing images of a brain in a text book or on an iPad is nothing like seeing the real thing.

"Now that they got to see an actual brain, that is much more relevant. They can say, 'I've seen the brainstem.' or 'I've seen the cerebellum.' What a valuable and compelling teaching experience for our students," Grendahl said.