Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

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Teacher's Guide

Recommended Grade Levels: 7 - 12 and up 
WARNING: Some of the photographs and procedures in this surgery activity are rather graphic.

Tips for using the site with students      

  1. Before using this activity in class (or at home with your kids) go through the activity once to make sure it works correctly on your computer(s). This activity is recommended for broadband internet access - expect load times between 15 seconds and 1.5 minutes depending on your internet connection.

  2. If the activity does not load after clicking the 'start' button, you may be asked to download a Flash Player from Please click yes, as this allows you to view the Edheads Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery.

  3. If you are using an iPad or other iDevice, our games will not play without downloading an app or browser. We recommend the Puffin Academy browser, that is a moderated site limited to educational content for teachers and families to use. The Puffin Academy browser is FREE and can be found here:

  4. Your computer(s) will need to have some sort of sound output. Either speakers or headphones will work well. The majority of this activity has voice audio. We highly recommend headphones in a classroom setting. 

  5. Students in the target grade-range will take approximately 30 minutes to complete surgery working individually or in groups of two to three. Some students can get queasy using this activity, particularly when looking at the photos of real surgery. We recommend closely monitoring students when they experience this activity for the first time.

  6. If the teacher would like students to fill out a worksheet while doing the activity, that can be printed here. The worksheet is NOT necessary to complete the activity but is a way for students to show they have done the activity or for teachers to track student progress.

  7. Assessment tools: Teachers may want to have students put their names on the worksheets and turn them in, which should indicate if students completed the assigned activity. There is also a quiz that can be given:

    A quick 5 question quiz can be found here
    Answers to the quiz questions can be found here

  8. After students use the site, teachers may want to discuss with their class why certain steps of surgery occurred in the order they did, or why these steps were performed at all. Asking questions such as “why do you think the Operating Room team asks the patient to do math (counting backwards by 7s) during the surgery?” will get students thinking about WHY various steps exist or why they are accomplished as they are. Teachers can also ask questions such as, “What do you think the FIRST brain surgery was like and how do you think it differed from today’s surgery?”

Answers to Questions in the Activity 

Q1. Why are the fiducials placed where they are?
A1. Because they need to be out of the way of the trajectory for the stimulation probe.

Q2. Why do you think I used a saline solution during drilling? 
A2. To cool the drill hole while the drill is working. AND To wash small bits of bone out of the surgical incision.

Q3. Why are we going to so much effort to measure and re-measure the location of the fiducials and the base of the tower?
A3. Because the location of the stimulation probe being inserted into the brain has to be exactly on target

Q4. Why doesn’t the surgeon and/or resident do the testing with the patient?
A4. They are part of the sterile field and cannot touch the patient or anything that is not inside the sterile field.

Q5. Why wait two weeks before setting the system? 
A5. Any procedure produces swelling and inflammation.  As the swelling and inflammation changes, the settings of the stimulator also will change. It would be frustrating for patient to come in daily for this.

Q6. What number would you give Ellen on the tasks she has just completed?
A6. 4 = severe impairment. 

The worksheet for this activity is optional. Teachers may choose to have their students do the worksheet as a means of ascertaining that the students have completed the activity. However, the worksheet is NOT required to complete the activity.

You can download the worksheet here.
You can download answers to the worksheet here.

Next Generation Science Standards (

High School Life Science

HS-LS1-2. Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

High school Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science

HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.

CCSS High School ELA

RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

RST.9-10.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

RST.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.

RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.

RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11–12 texts and topics.

RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Ohio Science Standards

Science & Technology
Grades 6-8:

  1. Give examples of how technological advances, influenced by scientific knowledge, affect the quality of life.
  2. Design a solution or product taking into account needs and constraints (e.g., cost, time, trade-offs, properties of materials, safety and aesthetics).

Scientific Inquiry
Grades 6-8:

  1. Explain that there are differing sets of procedures for guiding scientific investigations and procedures are determined by the nature of the investigation, safety considerations and appropriate tools.

Scientific Ways of Knowing
Grades 11-12:

  1. Explain how ethical considerations shape scientific endeavors.
  2. Explain how societal issues and considerations affect the progress of science and technology.

National Science Standards   

Content Standards
Grades 5-8:

  1. Understandings about scientific Inquiry.
  2. Understanding of structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity.
  3. Abilities of technological design and understandings about science and technology.
  4. Personal health risks and benefits, science and technology in society.

Grades 9-12:

  • Understandings about scientific inquiry.
  • Matter, energy and organization in living systems and behavior of organisms.
  • Abilities of technological design, understandings about science and technology.
  • Natural and human-induced hazards, science and technology in local, national, and global challenges.
  • Understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and science as a human endeavor.