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Great Brain Adventures

The administration and faculty at Westvale Elementary encourages students, with the help of their parents and classroom teachers, to become involved in Great Brain Adventure projects.

Specifically, to become a "Great Brain", a child chooses a topic in which he or she is interested, researches the topic in-depth, using a variety of sources and keeping careful records of his findings. The child then plans and makes a presentation before a school audience and invited guests.

At this point, it will be assumed that the child knows more about his chosen subject than anyone else in the school. A photo will be taken and displayed in the school. He or she will be awarded a Great Brain Certificate, and be congratulated by the Principal.

A Great Brain Adventure Project is more intensive than regularly assigned school work. Curiosity, creativity, commitment and perseverance are required to complete such independent study. A strict set of guidelines and steps must be followed to accomplish the goals of the project, but the rewards of accomplishment and increased self-esteem that result are well worth the efforts of students and parents.

For an exciting adventure in learning, we invite you to initiate a Great Brain Adventure Project soon.

Great BrainAdventures!


  1. List several subjects which arouse your interest or curiosity. Remember, there is a whole, wide world of interesting things common or uncommon. Your own interest is the most important guide to choosing a topic. Don't be afraid to stray from the beaten path. Take what time you need to brainstorm until something really sparks your interest. You might discover an interesting subject while reading a newspaper or magazine, listening to a special program or speaker, or observing something in a real-life situation. Perhaps you've always had a fascination for a certain subject and want to pursue it. Of course, a Great Brain subject should be one that will stretch the limits of your knowledge, rather than one you have already mastered.
  2. Choose, with your parents' help, one of the subjects from your list which is most appealing and offers the most promise of new discoveries. Your parents can help you narrow or broaden the topic as needed and as is appropriate for your age and abilities.
  3. Fill in and sign the official Great Brain entry blank and contract included below. This is a a very important step and no Great Brain project is considered in progress until this is done. If possible, you and your parent(s) should arrange to meet with your classroom teacher at this point to initiate the actual work on your project. At the very least, you, your parent, and your teacher must all read and sign the contract before any further work is done.
  4. Prepare a high-quality list of questions that you would like to find answers to on your subject. Keep adding to your list as you dig deeper and deeper. A minimum of 20 good questions to answer should be listed for any in-depth study of an interesting topic.
  5. Gather information about your subject from a variety of sources and from all possible places over a period of one to several months. Go to libraries, museums, laboratories, exhibits, programs, etc. Use books, magazines, television, telephone and personal interviews of authorities, mail-order, film strips, videos, experiments, and surveys--any sources you can find that are applicable to your subject.
  6. Keep notes and accurate records of the interesting things you learn and the places were you find information. DOn't just copy the author's words. Summarize information in your own words and tell some of your own ideas.
  7. Organize your findings by grouping related ideas under major headings. Depending on your age and ability, you may make a formal outline to help make sense of your subject and provide continuity from beginning to end.
  8. Create an original product that has to do with your subject and reflects your own thinking. This could be a story, a poem, a painting, a photo essay, a play, a short video program, construction of an original model, devising and carrying out an original scientific experiment, or any of a number of things. It is a very important part of your total project.
  9. Make or collect audio/visual aids such as pictures, posters, real objects, sound effects, etc., which will make your presentation more interesting or easier for your audience to understand.
  10. Practice your presentation until you are able to give it clearly and confidently. Know your subject very well. Be prepared to answer questions from your audience. Of course, you may use notes, but you should know your subject well enough in your own words that you do not need to read your entire presentation. Even though you may feel a little nervous, you should practice giving  your presentation  in a loud, clear voice to your family. Hear their suggestions for improvement and try again as many times as necessary. Try, above all, to share your ENTHUSIASM and EXCITEMENT with your audience.
  11. Schedule your presentation with our teacher when you are sure that you are ready or soon will be. Your teacher will review with you the steps involved and schedule an appropriate time for your presentation if you have fulfilled the obligations of the contract. Be sure to invite your parents and special friends and talk with your teacher about the audience you would feel comfortable with. Make sure your teacher knows if you need any special equipment or furniture for your presentation.
  12. Hand in the written component of you Great Brain project three days prior to the time of your presentation. This should include a title page, a list of your research questions, a written report of your findings, and a bibliography. All of these things should be typed or neatly written and included in some sort of folder or binder. Your teacher will also ask to see your notes and outline. You will be able to keep this written report and be proud of it for many years to come.


Since a "Great Brain" project is mostly an independent research undertaking and is completed, to a large extent, outside of school, parents play a significant role. A parent will, in most cases, be very involved in the preparation of the project, but will be a spectator when the child does his or her presentation. Following are some guidelines:

  1. Help the student decide on a realistic and interesting topic.
  2. meet with your child and the classroom teacher to sign the contract.
  3. Brainstorm with your child to develop questions of inquiry on his topic.
  4. Promote and encourage the project by helping your child set a schedule to complete each step.
  5. Provide or help the child get necessary materials for visual aids and the creative phase go the project.
  6. Center some of your family discussions and activities on the child's Great Brain topic.
  7. Guide your child in his or her research and help them to evaluate their progress.
  8. Help your child prepare and rehearse his or her presentation.
  9. Be sure to attend your child's presentation, along with other invited adult guests such as grandparents, neighbors, and friends. This should be a very special day for your child. He or she will have completed a difficult and unique task and will deserve your praise and recognition within the family unit.

The following items need to be printed and filled out in order to participate in a Great Brain project:

Great Brain Reviewers' Check List

Great Brain Agreement Student - Parent - Teacher