Backyard Brains Logo

Neuroscience for Everyone!

+1 (855) GET-SPIKES (855-438-7745)

items ()

Cincinnati Neuroscience Outreach by BYB Alumna

Feat. DIY Neurosci Research Projects proposed, projected, poster-ed, and presented by Middle School students!

Anastasiya was one of BYB’s 2018 Summer Fellows (of jellyfish fame), and now she has written back to us about the neuroscience outreach she has been doing in the Cincinnati area! One of the reasons we changed our summer program’s name from internship to fellowship is due to instances like this, where the students we bring in continue to work with us and connect us to the community at large, years after they leave Ann Arbor. Thank  you for spreading the Good Word, Ana!

What is NERDS and How Did I Get Involved:
NERDS is a Cincinnati-based non-profit founded by Coach Tee (Tonkia Bridges) last summer. NERDS aims to provide STEM-based workshops to students in the Cincinnati area. It initially focused around an FLL robotics team which had just started up at Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School. I joined the robotics team first, and, when NERDS was created, I came on as a “Lead Nerd.” This past year, NERDS was based out of Hays Porter High Technology School. I led this school year’s weekly robotics meetings and started up my own Neuroscience Workshop (which was based on my time at Backyard Brains) with the NERDS students.
Information on the NERDS-BYB Neuroscience Workshop:
Toward the end of my Backyard Brains fellowship, I was trying to connect the neuroscience/engineering concepts I’d just learned to my community outreach with NERDS and Bearcat Academy. I came up with a way to combine them via a self-designed honors experience through the UC Honors Program. Below is my introduction/reasoning for this experience taken directly from the proposal:
“This experience … seems like a natural extension of my current fellowship with Backyard Brains as well as a good opportunity to expand and share my knowledge with the Cincinnati community (focused mainly on Cincinnati Public Schools). I’ve had great experiences in the past year volunteering with both the LEGO Robotics team at Taft and the UC Scholars Prep mentees (also at Taft). I would love to share the DIY neuroscience experiments I’ve learned at my fellowship with the students and inspire them to ask questions, pursue research, and come up with their own experiments and ideas. I would love to try some of the labs already provided by BYB with the organizations at Taft with which I already volunteer, but my hope would be to then expand this experience and share the knowledge and tools with actual classrooms throughout various schools in the district and to then make our own unique experiments together.”

Fall Outreach

The majority of this outreach was with the NERDS students (most of whom were in 5th through 8th grade and came from different schools in Cincinnati). In Fall 2018, the meetings were a lecture-lab style where I would choose content to go over ahead of time and then teach it to the students. During the fall semester meetings, the students learned about the different SpikerBoxes (BYB devices which record signals from the body), watched BYB TedTalks, and were guided through some of the pre-made experiments on the BYB website.
Below are a few photos from the live-demos of the SpikerBoxes:

Some students who are ready for neuroscience!

Testing the Human-Human Interface


Trying to get some eye potentials 

Testing The Claw
Below are a couple photos from lectures which aimed to show that you can explore neuroscience concepts even if you don’t have access to recording equipment like the SpikerBoxes.
Skin sensitivity and homunculus experiments

Reaction time tests with different stimuli


Spring Projects

Spring 2019 has been focused on a smaller group of students from NERDS who paired up into three teams. Each team then chose a device (Heart and Brain SpikerBox, Muscle SpikerBox Pro, or Muscle Spiker Shield with Human-Human Interface and The Claw). The students
explored their devices, brainstormed and designed some experiments, and collected data over multiple meetings while keeping lab notebooks.
Below are some photos of the students working on their final projects.

Muscle SpikerBoxPro team:


Heart & Brain SpikerBox team:


Muscle SpikerShield + Arduino team:

NERDS Showcase

The students just completed their experiences and presented their final project posters at a NERDS showcase on Sunday March 31, doing live demos for their parents, some volunteers, and the NERDS board members.

Thank you, Ana, for all your continued work in the Neuroscience community. This is the kind of work that Backyard Brains was made for. We can’t wait to see where these students go next! 

Interested in sharing your experience? Drop us a note with some pictures at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.