The Senses – a New Science Elective

Portions of this article contributed by Upper School Principal Joe Algrant

Upper School Science faculty member Ted Scovell’s new course, The Senses, took some researching, which he conducted over the summer:

“I am fascinated by the senses. We think we perceive the world as it is, but we really perceive the world as we are. Think about how differently a human, a bat and an ant perceive the same environment. I find it beautiful that colors, tastes, smells and sounds do not exist, but are merely our brain’s attempt to create an evolutionarily meaningful picture of our surroundings.

The Senses is, at heart, a neuroscience course. I haven’t taught neuroscience, so to prepare, I spent just about every morning in June and August working at Starbucks from 6 AM to noon. I read textbooks, watched videos, read journal articles, and created labs and classes. In July, I attended a week-long workshop at the Milwaukee School of Engineering on modeling the behavior of neurons, and met with neuroscience researchers from Rockefeller University. The Senses will meet around 65 times, which means that I had to create around 60 hours of material. It was daunting, but ultimately beautiful as I learned so much.”

In mid-October, junior and senior students in this elective course got a lesson in the kitchen with D-E’s own Chef Luke on what and how the sense of taste actually works. In an interactive interdisciplinary lesson, the neuroscience met the culinary arts – students had the opportunity to learn from the act of eating and connect it to how the tongue and brain receives and translates chemical mixtures into flavor.

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