When you get scared, your body releases stress hormones that increase your breathing rate and your pulse. Here lies a great STEM experiment (for healthy people only):
You'll need a watch with a second hand, and a stethoscope for taking a pulse. (One can also take a pulse by using two fingers, but remember not to use the thumb, since that has a pulse of its own).
In this class experiment, have students determine their normal heart rate. Later in the day, create a stressful event (like a fake drill, a fake pop quiz, or telling the class they're in trouble). Tell the students to take their pulse -- and that this was not a real event! They will notice that their pulse increased. Granted, this experiment is a bit cruel, but it's a great hook to discuss the science of the brain. Their increased heart rate and breathing will bring to bear the role of the amygdala.
While teaching about the amygdala might be wickedly fun, this part of the brain should not be a long-term guest in the classroom. Let's see why.
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