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Virtual Neurons

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Description Neurons, or nerve cells, are the basic functional units of the nervous system. Students use the Virtual Neurons software to construct neural circuits and visualize how messages travel through the circuits. As an extension, students can design and implement an experiment manipulating circuit components to alter neural communication.
Type of Resource Assignment/Activity (Non-Laboratory/Non-Hands on Activity), Lesson Plan, Mobile App - Android, Mobile App - iPad/iPhone, Simulation, Software
Format Web Page - HTML
Janet Dubinsky, University of Minnesota
Development Date July 4, 2013
Grade/Age Levels Intermediate elementary (Grades 3-5)
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
High School lower division (Grades 9-10)
National Science
Educational Standards
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (K-12), Change, constancy, and measurement (K-12), Evidence, models, and explanation (K-12), Form and function (K-12), Structure and function in living systems (5-8), Understandings about scientific inquiry (K-12)
Learning Time 2-3 hours
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed By LifeSciTRC Board
Review Date November 18, 2013
Funding Sources National Institutes of Health, NIH-SEPA Program
Suggested Use


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Impressive job. In elementary and middle school, the options could quickly overwhelm students. At this level, the program may be more useful as a demonstration or guided activity.

Thomas Pressley, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

This is a great project and it is very well done.  A lot of attention to detail went into this design and it is well noted.  Additionally, the author gave consideration to the teacher and the student in this design and I anticipate it will be very well received.  A few brief additions to the Teachers Guide to serve as a more thorough refresher for the teacher are suggested and more clarification on the age groups would add some fine-tuning details to the project and be more helpful to the teacher who plans to use this for varied age groups. 

Overall, this is a very-well designed hands-on simulation project for students to learn the basics of neural circuitry and to apply that basic knowledge to design and predict outcomes of circuitry that they design. 

Lila LaGrange, University of the Incarnate Word, School of Pharmacy