The Consumer Electronics Show floods Las Vegas annually with nearly 200,000 visitors and exhibitors, and for the first time, Backyard Brains joined the likes of Intel, Google, IBM, and other giants by attending as exhibitors and hosting our own booth!
The trip was fun, but certainly wasn’t without its challenges. Upon arriving in Vegas, our team realized that we were missing something very important… a sign for our exhibit. Oops. Consequently, we spent the evening before the first day of CES hunting for arts and crafts supplies (harder to find than you’d think…) and painting a new sign! We think it turned out pretty well, and it definitely feels very on-brand for a do-it-yourself company.
Our team did demos and talked to interested geeks for four straight days, and it was a blast! We asked people who had never heard of us before to roll up their sleeves for science. The hands shaken, the electrodes used, the business cards traded–it was all a blur of new connections. In the past, we’ve typically only attended scientific conferences, like the Society for Neuroscience conference and the Michigan Science Teachers Association conference, where we’ve been pretty established. So this was our first dip into the consumer world, and a lot of people were excited about the tech and the educational opportunities it provides!
Our RoboRoach proved to be incredibly novel and intriguing for attendees at CES… We didn’t double check with every booth, but we’re fairly certain we were showing off the only real cyborg at CES! We had constant crowds, and even private tours showing up to take a look at our RoboRoach, the world’s first commercially available cyborg!
We hope you enjoyed CES… we know we did! Whether you are new to BYB or are a long-time fan, we sincerely thank you for taking the time to stop by our booth and participate in some hands-on neuroscience! This was a new conference for us and we were not sure what to expect… turns out we were so slammed with crowds that people had to try multiple times to get in and see demos! Thanks for your enthusiasm and support, we’ll definitely be back next year! In the meantime, be sure to keep checking the blog and wander over to our Products Page to see what we’re up to!
Recently, our very own Tim Marzullo spoke with the Ladan Jiracek, host and creator of the “Neural Implant Podcast.” This podcast describes its purpose as “bringing together the field of neuroprosthetics, brain-machine interfaces, and brain implants through an understandable conversation on the current topics and breakthroughs in the fields.”
The Podcast runs just under an hour, with Tim covering a great range of subject matter. Beginning with the viral sensation that was (and still is…) our “Human-Human-Interface” TED talk, Tim discusses the genesis of that project and then of the company itself.
Tim then goes on to discuss the role he sees Backyard Brains playing in education as we address the lack of accessible neuroscience tools and education, before discussing his perspective on the future of the field and his hopes for Backyard Brains’ future.
The podcast covers all this and more, but we’ll leave you to listen to it yourself! Check it out at Neural Implant Podcast.com , then consider checking out some of the other podcasts on the site! Many of the scientists interviewed are friends of BYB and are up to fascinating work. Hope you enjoy!
Four more years… of Science!
It is an exciting day at the Backyard Brains office! After much revision and consideration, we have secured further NIH grant funding to continue our development of neuroscience education tools and materials!
If you are unfamiliar, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is a federal agency that is responsible for performing and funding research in neuroscience, biology, immunology, and other health sciences.
We, like many other organizations and health sciences companies, could not exist without support from institutes like the NIH, and we are excited to continue working with the NIH to create new neuroscience tools, experiments, and teaching materials. This will make neuroscience more exciting and more accessible to students, parents, and teachers.
Grant funding isn’t just free money… it is all carefully allocated and approved to be invested in specific projects. Our grant had three specific aims:
- Develop new human physiology kits and experiments
- Create kits for human-machine engineering projects
- Develop a comprehensive 6-12 neuroscience curriculum
We are particularly excited because of the interdisciplinary nature of these projects. Working with kids as young as sixth grade, we have the opportunity to teach and excite students to learn more about their brain, about biology, engineering, robotics, electrical engineering, and more! With much of the money targeted specifically towards the development of our human electrophysiology experiments, we have big ideas for new tech and experiments for the EEG, EMG, and Human-Machine Interface (SpikerShield) kits.
Another important driver in our quest is the development of stronger and more cohesive teaching materials and curricula. To this end, we will be updating our existing experiments, revamping our teacher’s guides, and weaving it all together to create a progressive, educational experience for students in grades 6-12. We are creating a classroom experience that integrates physical and web-based media and will get kids answering questions and then asking their own.
We believe that neuroscience and electrophysiology represent invaluable opportunities to get students engaged in STEM. Not every student we reach will become a neuroscientist… but we believe our work broadens the scope of subject matter that students are exposed to. We’ve taught elementary school students about neurons, worked with middle school students on Arduino projects, helped high school students engineer their own brain-machine interfaces, and provided resources to undergraduate universities to enrich their neuroscience programs. We believe this work is essential for inspiring a new generation of passionate scientists and thinkers, because it is more important now than ever that we educate and inspire our students so that they may carry our torch and help it burn even brighter in the future.