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JHU APL Challenge: Creating Connectomes: Mapping the Mouse Brain

Challenge Description:

In this challenge, students will identify neural synapses in the mouse brain using electron microscopy images. Students will have the opportunity to extend their knowledge by collaborating with students in computer science and/or algebra II classes to develop an automated synapse detector for the Applied Physics Lab. Lastly, students will design and carry out an investigation where they create a neural circuit to test how manipulating a factor within the circuit can affect neural communication.

Getting Started

View the teacher and student registration documents below to access the site and register your class. 

The JHU/APL STEM Challenge Website may be found here >>>

Enter the special registration token: Golgi$1906

The lesson in the download box is optional. It is desinged to show teachers where this challenge fits into the curriulum and how the challenge aligns to content standards.

E-mail questions about the challenge to:


Enduring Understanding

  • Neurons connect to each other to form neuronal networks.
  • Transmission of information between neurons occurs across synapses.
  • Models can be used to simulate systems and interactions.

Essential Questions

  • How does a neuron work to communicate messages throughout the body?
  • How are neural messages initiated and/or stopped within a neural circuit?
  • How does a synapse aid in the neural communication process?

Students will be able to:

  • explain the basic structure, function, and classification of a neuron.
  • illustrate how neural communication is transmitted across a synapse.
  • develop a model to analyze neural circuitry.
  • identify neuronal synapses in the mouse brain.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License