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8th Grade Students teach and present Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering to the STEM-ED Community!

Many educators we work with travel to conferences and trainings around their home states and countries, and a few of them even take students! Amy Farkas, from Riverview Michigan, (Read more about her class here) took her 8th graders this past year to a handful of conferences to bring what they’ve learned to the real world. At the conferences, the students presented their work and research to other students, educators, and professionals.

We spoke with Amy to hear about the experience and the impact that neuroscience outreach had on the students. For more about her work in the classroom this past year, check out our other blog post:

“8th Grade Classroom Showcase: Students Develop Neuroprosthetics Designed to Assist Senior Citizens, Win State-Wide Awards”

As always, she tweeted the whole process and this time many other educators tweeted their experience with the students too!

Amy: I surprised myself when I volunteered my students to present at a number of conferences this year: at RESA in Grand Rapids and at the MACUL Student Technology Showcase in Detroit, and, because I thought this would be a great experience but I would have to depend on a lot of different people and have to have a lot of cogs working in perfect synchronization to make it happen.

Like who are my drivers going to be? Who are you taking in your car? I need to have all of these materials back. Keep in mind I’m down in Detroit starting on Tuesday for the conference, and these kids weren’t coming until Thursday, and I wasn’t going to be back in the school building to deal with any of that.

Even though I knew it would be challenging, I knew it was an experience that I wanted my students to have

The Student Technology Showcase is sponsored by AT&T at MACUL. It happens the first week of December and it’s an awesome opportunity for students across the state to go in and showcase different technology projects that they’re doing.

Thankfully, in this case, everything did go wonderfully. The kids the week before Macall, the kids that were going with me came in at lunch. Three different times. They organized the materials that they wanted to take, um, they organized the materials that I asked them to take, they came up with some ideas of their own that they wanted to do, and I said “Put it all in the bags, if we don’t use it we can always bring it back.” but it was very organic on their part. They knew what they wanted to show, what they wanted to teach. I made a couple of suggestions either way, and it worked out wonderfully.

We presented on a number of projects, but when it came to neuroscience I have a team captain. His name is Connor, and he is an amazing young man and neuroscience became kind of a passion for him and so he was the Neuroscience Captain.

All I said was “Connor, you’re in charge of Neuroscience.”

He dealt with the other students and made sure that their level of knowledge was up to what his expectation of that was. I really did nothing.

In the end, it was a fantastic opportunity for my students. Just like in the classroom, where I have them become teachers to each other, they got to take those skills out into the real world and present to total strangers everything they knew about neuroscience!

Thanks for sharing the experience, Amy! At the last event the students presented, we heard this feedback from an event organizer:

We just hosted our first Maker-STEM Summit this past Monday and the same two students who presented Backyard Brains at MACUL were presenting again for us. They did an amazing job and people were beyond impressed. -Judy B.

Do you have examples of amazing student outreach which has been enhanced by the opportunities that Backyard Brains tools provide? Email us at to share your story!

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