Brain Project ideas

One of the best known creative geniuses of all time was Thomas Edison who was educated at home by his mother and by himself. His mother Nancy was not a trained professional, but she was a wonderful mentor who allowed Tom to learn through hands on trial and error. When he became interested in a subject, Nancy would order books on the subject. According to Edison, his mother never forced or prodded him to learn, but made great works available and set the example herself by reading them.

kids building a playhouse

Homeschoolers can foster this kind of love for learning in their children by following these great examples. One way is through "Great Brain Projects" in which the child becomes a "great brain" about a subject that interests him.

The student should begin by choosing a topic that he is really and truly interested in. The subject of the project can be anything the student wants to know about. It may take a few days or even longer for the child to come up with a topic he wants to do his project on. He might change his mind a few times, too. That is OK. You might want to say on Monday, "You will need to choose your topic by Friday." You can give ideas if you like, but it is very important that the student be the one who makes the final choice. The desire to know more is what drives the project and this only happens when the student honestly wants to know everything about the subject. This means if your child wants to do their project on motorcyles, basketball, or diving it is fine with you.

In order for this to work, parents must be willing to take children to the library and other outside resources for help. If your child chooses motorcycles, you will probably want to visit a motorcycle shop or someone you know who owns a motorcycle. If your child chooses Egypt, you should visit a museum perhaps with a real mummy or other artifacts. Do whatever you can manage with your schedule, availability and budget. Younger students will need more help from Mom or Dad especially in finding resources to help the study.

One Approach

The student should have a notebook in which to keep notes and plan the project. The following is one possible approach to studying the topic.

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Build Questions:
    • What do I want to know about the topic?
    • What do I know already know about the topic?
  3. Investigate, research, observe
    • Interview authorities
    • Write for information from authorities
    • Read books
    • Have family discussions or activities
    • Visit places with knowledge of the topic
    • Search the internet
    • Perform experiments
    • Keep a record of findings
  4. Prepare presentation of findings
    • Create a display
    • Present your report to a group

Great Brain Projects can take as long as you like. Some may be finished in a few weeks, some may go on for up to a year or even more. Two to three months seems to be the average for us.

At the end of the project, the student should prepare some sort of presentation to make about the topic. In our homeschool group, we have an annual Great Brain Day where students present the projects they have been working on. If you don't belong to a homeschool group that would like to do this, you can choose another family or two in which to make the presentations with. You could also simply do it as a family, perhaps inviting relatives to come and see.

There are numerous ways to present the final report of what one has learned during their study. Preparing the presentation should be as interesting as learning about the topic. The student can come up with any way they like to make the final presentation, but usually it will also be accompanied by a written report in the form of a booklet. It's nice to have the booklet professionally bound at a copy shop to keep for years to come.

A good mentor will have their own Great Brain Project going as well. Mom and Dad may also make presentations on what they have been studying!

Presentation Ideas

  • Art work
  • Board Game
  • Blog
  • Collection
  • Craft
  • Demonstration
  • Diorama
  • Display
  • Dramatization
  • Experiment
  • Garden
  • Handicraft display
  • Illustrated Story
  • Instruction Manual
  • Invention
  • Labeled Diagram
  • Lapbook
  • Lego model
  • Magazine or Newspaper
  • Map with legend
  • Mobile
  • Model
  • Mural
  • Museum
  • Needlework
  • Oral Presentation or Speech
  • Painting
  • Pamphlet
  • Paper Folding
  • Paper Mache
  • Photo Album
  • Photography
  • Podcast
  • Poem
  • Powerpoint Presentation
  • Puppet Show
  • Quilt
  • Research Paper
  • Scrapbook
  • Shadow Play
  • Slide Show
  • Skit
  • Terrarium
  • Timeline
  • Video Production
  • Website
  • Or Otheruse your imagination!

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