AP Psychology students inspect human brains


Skylar Weiss

Neil Schwartz holds out a brain for students to see.

Charlie McBrian, Staff Writer

Last Thursday, AP Psychology students were treated to a presentation in which they got to see a two recently deceased human brains.

The minds behind this presentation were juniors Maya Schwartz and Evelyn Gordi.

“The whole experience was surreal,” Gordi said.

The idea to bring in brains started as part of a yearly project for AP Biology classes in which students are given free reign on what they can do, so long as it explored biology in a hands-on manner.

“I’d say right off the bat we had an idea of what we wanted to do,” Maya Schwartz said. “During October and November, we compiled information to use during our presentation, in December we put the finishing touches on the presentation. All that was left was getting the brains.”

The specimens were obtained by Stanford Neurology Professor and Maya Schwartz’s father, Neil Schwartz.

“It’s not like going to Sancho’s and getting a chicken burrito; these things take a good amount of planning and are not readily available,” Neil Schwartz said. “Fortunately, I have a friend of mine who is a neuropathologist who was able to assist in obtaining real human specimens, and we were able to get the specimens in for the class to see.”

According to Gordi, they chose to present to AP Psychology students because it was more relevant to that class’ curriculum than that of AP Biology.

Gordi contacted her AP Psychology teacher Michelle McKee in hopes that they’d be able to present to her classes, and McKee wholeheartedly embraced the idea.

“This is a great opportunity for students who prefer a more hands-on approach to learning,” McKee said.

Many, including McKee, have never gotten a chance to see a human brain up close.

“After ten years of teaching about the brain, it was really cool to see it in person,” McKee said.

Students have reacted quite positively to the presentation, and many were surprised by what they saw.

“It was a lot bigger than I expected,” said Cassidy O’Connell, a senior. “I feel like we’re really lucky to be able to see this at such a young age.”

Both Gordi and Maya Schwartz have mentioned how this experience has fostered a newfound respect for teachers.

“It’s really draining to stand in front of a class and present to them period after period,” Gordi said. “I don’t know how they do it.”

According to Maya Schwartz, her favorite part of the whole experience was seeing everything come together.

Maya Schwartz said: “We put a lot of hard work into this, and I’m glad to say that it paid off. Seeing everyone interested and engaged was an amazing feeling that I won’t soon forget.”