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Neuroscience for Everyone!

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Apply Now for IEEE Brain Virtual Summer School – YaIEEE!

A two-week online course on neural engineering spruced up with some signal processing and machine learning – is there a better way to spend two weeks of August? Plus, you’ll tinker with a BYB Heart and Brain SpikerBox – and you’ll get to keep it too! Full details here.

If you’re as hyped up about FREE neuroscience education opportunities as we are, you’ll want to know that this course will teach you:

  • Neurophysiology and brain organization
  • Brain data acquisition and signal processing
  • Basic and advanced neural coding using machine learning

All lectures are conveniently divided into AM and PM sessions, so your brain can have some me-time in between studying – why, the brain of course!

Best of all, it’s not just theorizing but a great deal of hands-on experience, thanks to our little pal SpikerBox. Since the course will be held online in the best tradition of social distancing, you are welcome to apply from anywhere in the world!

Are There Any Prerequisites?

When we say that neuroscience is for everyone, we really mean it. But this is an advanced course, so if you want to have a really great time, you do need some basic programming knowledge (Matlab and/or Python, as always). And, of course, knowing your way around linear algebra, calculus and probability is a big yaIEEE.

Kudos to the people who kindly made it possible, José C. Príncipe from University of Florida and Yiwen Wang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The application deadline of 17th July is nigh and only 20 lucky students will get to enroll, so you’d better hurry!

While at it, be sure to check out the IEEE Brain Initiative treasure trove of resources on neuroscience, including their phenomenal podcast, webinars, TED Talks, and more.


Dr. Greg Gage joins Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts for Free X-STEM Sessions on “Science that Saves Lives”

Welcome To X-STEM All Access

Join us on Monday, May 18th (5/18/2020) for a special live-stream featuring Backyard Brains co-founder Greg Gage, breakthrough cancer researcher Dr. Mika Sovak, and Dr. Anthony Fauci as they address the subject Science that Saves Lives. Register for the free event HERE!

These live presentations and Q&As are part of a series of talks which kicks off TOMORROW (5/12/2020) – As described by the event’s website

X-STEM All Access – presented by AstraZeneca – is an entertaining, educational, and interactive online STEM experience for 6-12th graders. Through a series of daily livestream events, students will hear from an exclusive group of visionaries who aim to inspire kids about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Our moderator, Justin Shaifer (Mr. Fascinate), will take kids on a STEM adventure that is anything but boring with a new set of engaging speakers, brain breaks and Q&A’s each day.”

A Great Remote Lesson Opportunity!

Teachers, this is a great opportunity for your students to engage with leaders in their respective fields of research and science! Focused on a K-12 audience, these presentations are certain to educate and inspire.

To turn this into a “grade-able” opportunity, we recommend students prepare a journal entry before and after the presentation following these guidelines:

Pre-Talk Journal Entry

  • Which speaker are you most interested in hearing from?
  • Describe their background, specialty, and contribution to science and public health
  • Write a question you’d like to hear them answer

Post-Talk Journal Entry

  • Which was the most fascinating presentation to you? Why?
  • What did you learn that surprised you?
  • Did you get an answer to your question?
  • What new questions do you have?

These simple prompts can kick-start a responsive lesson! If your students are interested in hearing answers from Dr. Greg-Gage, email us a compilation of their questions at hello@backyardbrains.com – and we’ll compile the questions and follow up with answers!


Khan Academy contest offers MASSIVE Scholarship for Student Videos “Explaining Challenging Concepts”

The Khan Academy “2020 Breakthrough Junior Challenge” comes at a time when student engagement in STEM is more critical than ever. If you are a remote student or are a professional (or maybe parent!) educator attempting to transition rapidly into remote/home teaching strategies, this could be an excellent opportunity to turn an at-home-assignment into a tremendous opportunity for your students!

Khan Academy’s 2020 Breakthrough Junior Challenge

This challenge encourages students to investigate a complex idea and then create a video that explains it in an interesting, accessible, and eloquent way!

Here is a description direct from Khan Academy:

“We’re proud to partner with the Breakthrough Junior Challenge video contest again this year. Students ages 13 through 18 are invited to create a short (under three minutes) video explaining a challenging concept in physics, mathematics, or the life sciences in an engaging, illuminating, and creative way. This year, there is an additional COVID-19 category, and students are encouraged to help educate the world about this global health crisis by sharing the science or math behind the causes, impacts and potential solutions. If you win, you’ll receive the college scholarship, your teacher will receive a $50,000 prize, and your school will get a new $100,000 science lab!”

You read that last sentence right: The winning student will receive a $250,000 scholarship, their teacher will win $50,000 worth of funding, and the school will receive $100,000 worth of funding for the renovation or development of a new science lab!

Making Complex Ideas Simple

Pre-Teen Hacker explaining her neuroscience-inspired Hackathon Project to a Judge

he mission to take the complexity out of science education is the heart of our work at Backyard Brains. Working with students from first grade through graduate school, Science Communication (or #SciComm) is at the forefront of our minds and work.

If it tickles your fancy, we encourage you to create a submission for the Khan Academy contest featuring an explanation related to Neuroscience (Perhaps even with hands-on demonstrations using our kits)!

If you are a student or a teacher who is seriously interested in using our resources to help create a powerful submission video, do feel free to email us at hello@backyardbrains.com and we will do what we can to coach and support you!

The TED Talk Approach

When we work with student research fellows, public presentations of their research are a part of the gig. In fact, “teaching” a subject you are attempting to master is a necessary learning tool! Attempting to explain a concept to someone else makes you realize your own knowledge-gaps (There isn’t an educator alive who hasn’t been stopped dead in their tracks by a seemingly simple question).

Here are 3 tips to a successful “science explanation” that will keep things fun, fascinating, and snappy:

  • Focus on the phenomenon
  • Use simple language
  • Emphasize the Importance and Urgency of your topic

Can you see how Dr. Gage used those three tips in action in the video above? It works!

Additional Example Resources

For some inspiration, ideas, and to learn from example, check out some of our video resources below, with a few different kinds of examples!