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Science Experiments -- Left, Right or Hair Brained?

Aug 17, 2007
A science experiment on the brain? Yes! This experiment gets inside your head and makes some revealing determinations! You've heard of being right or left handed but how about left or right brained? Are you left brained or right brained? Left brain people tend to be logical, sequential, rational and analytical. They are usually objective and tend to look at small parts. Right brain people on the other hand are more random and intuitive. They are holistic, synthesizing, subjective, and tend to look at the whole instead of the parts.

This left-brained, right-brained or hemispheric theory of the mind suggests that the two different sides of the brain control two different "modes" of thinking. It also suggests that each of us prefers one mode over the other. If this theory holds true it may explain why people look at and do things in different ways.

Many of us have a preference for one of these styles of thinking. While others are more "whole-brained" being equally adept at both modes. Most schools favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain ones. Left-brainers focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained subjects focus on aesthetics and feeling.

Which one are you? Left or right? Are you better at art, video games, or sports? Are you a good dancer? The things we like to do and what we are good at are often because of how our brain works. Ultimately, this has an effect on how the body and brain work together. For example, some people are well coordinated while other people tend to be clumsy.

This left-brain, right-brain theory provides a wonderful opportunity to conduct a great science experiment! Try this experiment on yourself, family and friends. You'll find out more about why you and others do what the things they do.

The experiment is a two step process and is easy to conduct; it's basic observation and noting experiment results. Your subjects will answer a few questions and perform a few simple movements which you will carefully observe. For part one, ask them these questions and write down their answers:

1. When you enter a theater which side do you prefer; A. left or B. right?
2. What style of test question do you like; A. true/false or B. discussion?
3. Do you have hunches; A. no or B. yes?
4. Are you A. neat or B. sloppy?
5. When learning to dance is it easier to A. follow the teacher, or B. feel the music?
6. Can you tell time without a watch; A. no or B. yes?
7. Which is easier for you; A. specific details or B. main ideas?

If your subjects answered most questions with the "A" answer, they are likely left-brained. If most of your answers were "B", they are probably right-brained. But the experiment is not yet complete.

For the part two of the science experiment you'll ask your subjects to do these simple movements to determine hand dominance, foot dominance, eye dominance, and ear dominance. This is where the experiment gets interesting since right hand actions are actually controlled by the left side of the brain and left hand actions are controlled by the right side of the brain. We'll go into this in more detail when we tally the results. For now ask your subjects to perform these actions:

Hand Dominance -- Ask your subjects to write their name, cut a piece of paper in half, throw a ball, eat with a fork and finally, take a drink of water. Note which hand they used for each action.

Foot Dominance -- Ask your subjects to kick a ball, step up three steps, and finally, step onto a coin on the floor. Note which foot they use for each action.

Eye Dominance -- Ask your subjects to look through a tube at a distant object. Ask them to look through a hole cut out of a piece of paper. Note the eye used for each action.

Ear Dominance - Tell your subject you want to whisper something in their ear; note which ear they offer you.

Time to tally the hand dominance, foot dominance, eye dominance, and ear dominance results. Remember that actions are controlled by the opposite side of the brain. In other words, left side actions are controlled by the right side of the brain and right side actions are controlled by the left side of the brain. So if your subject used their right ear to listen, you would write down the left side of the brain for that action. If your subject used their left hand to write, you would write down the right side of the brain for that action.

Compare the answers from part one with the results from part two. How many left-brainers were there? How many right-brainers? Do you have any who fit in both categories? If so, these are whole-brainers.

Some people believe that the hemispheric brain theory is non-sense. They believe that most people use both sides of the brain at all times rather than using just one side of the brain at a time. They believe that to solve complicated problems such as a math problem you use both sides of the brain -- the logical and the creative side. So, if we use both brains all the time - at the same time - how could we prefer one side over the other as the hemispheric brain theory suggests?

What do you believe? Are your right-brained subjects more creative type people? Are your left-brained subjects more analytical type people? Perhaps the answer to the theory lies in the results of your science experiment.
About the Author
Mort Barish is co-founder of Terimore Institute, Inc. Terimore provides hundreds of science experiments with step-by-step guides for children in grades K-12 to help them learn more about science. Find fun, easy and award-winning science experiments at www.terimore.com!
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