Out of their minds: a psychology project


Colon teaches her students about the brain.

Connor Darby

AP Psychology teacher Lynelle Colon may not find Shawn Mendes, puffy paint and play-doh on her curriculum map, but she does her best to incorporate her students’ interests into her classroom activities.

After breaking her students up into groups, Colon assigned them a project where they labeled the various structures of the human brain. She allowed her students to be as creative as they wished. Her students had to make sure they had certain brain structures labeled such as the various brain lobes and certain glands.

One group works together to teach the class about their model.

“Our project was on the different aspects of the brain and what their functions are,” senior Haley Duncan said. “We labeled the different lobes that are found in the brain and other individual parts such as the cerebellum and the medulla.”

Once students ensured that they met the academic requirements, they worked on their projects as a group to create colorful and unique models of the fundamental human organ.

Davina Sisouphanouvong (left) and Hannah Mulroney (right) present their brain model.

“I enjoyed the creative process of the project because it was fun working together to come up with the ideas, and actually implementing them,” senior Davina Sisouphanouvong said. “Our group decided to use play-doh which was really fun shaping it out to resemble the brain.”

Play-doh wasn’t the only material that groups used. One group purchased a styrofoam head from Hobby Lobby and then painted it with acrylic paint to indicate different regions of the brain below the skull.

Alex Arnold (left) and Shakira Khan (right) demonstrate their group’s styrofoam head.

“Everyone else’s projects were great in our class, but I think our group did the best,” senior Shakira Khan said. “I am happy with how the project turned out because it was very colorful and just fun to do, but it believe it could have been better if we had put more time into and got more supplies to decorate it.”

A different group had a separate problem with their materials. They did not know what to do with the materials they had, so they tried eating them. 

Alex Arnold (left), Shakira Khan (center) and Haley Duncan (right) respond to Colon’s thoughts on their project.

“[Mrs. Colon] was just like ‘What if it’s bad for you! Don’t eat it because I’m right here and I’ll get in trouble because you’re eating paint!’, but I just looked over at her and said, ‘It’s for the gag, I never disappoint,’” junior Austin Drysdale said. “I thought it was hysterical… The paint was right there and I said ‘Hey, let’s see what it does to your brain!’”

Austin Drysdale (left) reacts to his partner’s jokes.

Colon found a way to make Drysdale’s paint eating into a teachable moment. By relating it to the class’ previous unit on psychological research, Colon showed her ability to communicate information to her kids in a unique and student-centered way.

Colon’s skill as an educator comes from helping her students feel comfortable in her classroom. While students worked on their projects, she allowed them to play music and get up out of their seats to collaborate.

“Shawn Mendes just relieved us of our stress and we all just had a good time making great memories,” Khan said.