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Though She Be But Little, She Can Hack

Arushi (age 10) with her dragonfly bot at Elle Hacks 2020

What did you do with your weekends when you were 10 years old? We bet it wasn’t participate in a women-driven hackathon where you developed your own functioning neural robot! (We bet you wish you did, though.) Arushi Nath, age 10, recently participated in Elle Hacks 2020, an all-women hackathon hosted by York University in Canada. Arushi saw our DIY Neurosci TED episode and was fascinated by our findings about dragonflies, nature’s most accurate hunter, and she decided to make a bot that mimicked dragonfly behavior.

Arushi’s Dragonfly Bot

Dragonflies are highly accurate hunters due to their ability to sense their prey, using dedicated neurons on each side of its brain, and Arushi wanted to represent this sensing with her bot. Using an Arduino, mini servos, and a breadboard, Arushi devised a Dragonfly Bot that could sense light from either the left “eye” or right “eye” and stimulate corresponding outputs. In nature, these outputs would move the dragonfly left or right toward its target. In two days, Arushi was able to build and code a working robot that could simulate basic dragonfly visual processes!

Arushi isn’t the only one in her family that digs science, either. The Nath family from Toronto, Canada created their “maker-family enterprise” known as HotPopRobot in 2014 after they won a hackathon together. You can follow along with HotPopRobot on Twitter at @wonrobot, for more details about their events and projects (we will definitely be giving them a follow)! Arushi has been attending maker events since she was 5 years old, and she is thrilled to be able to participate all on her own now.

Arushi presenting her bot to the judges

It is wonderful that more and more events like Elle Hacks are popping up across the scientific community in recent years. Elle Hacks centers women in science, creating places for typically underrepresented individuals to develop their interests and foster connections, and they make it possible for girls like Arushi to get a head start on figuring out their passions.

At Backyard Brains, we are in the business of democratizing neuroscience, and we feel incredibly validated when our past projects inspire kids to take the initiative and grab the reins of their scientific future. We hope Arushi continues to hack her way into adulthood!

If you’re interested in more work with dragonflies, head to the inspiration for Arushi’s project: our 2017 summer fellow’s blog post about our non-invasive dragonfly visual recorder.

We love stories like this! Have your own? Email us with your hacks at hello@backyardbrains.com! We can’t wait to hear what you have discovered!


BYB Needs You! Seeking Neuroscience Experiment Intern

Neuroscience Experiment Intern Wanted
(Downtown Ann Arbor)

Compensation: $15/hr based on 40-hour work week
Employment type: full-time internship

Backyard Brains is seeking a neuroscience intern to continue ongoing experiments!

You:
-A STEM undergrad, currently taking a break from the classroom. (Recent grad or gap year preferable)
-Passionate about scientific discovery and designing innovative, impactful experiments
-Experienced in or excited by a future of scientific outreach
-Able to guide a project through every step and take initiative when help is needed
-Looking forward to being a Neuroscience ambassador!
-Living in the Ann Arbor area

The Job:
-Develop and run experiments in ongoing research projects that were started during our summer fellowships
-Originate accessible experiment write-ups for use in BYB content channels
-Short-term internship; can last 3-6 months, depending on availability and project.
-Work in our Ann Arbor office during normal business hours (no parking on-site)

Our experiments have been featured in 9 TED talks and numerous popular science TV shows, such as White Rabbit Project and Bill Nye Saves The World. Your work will provide a basis for further research and even be included in peer-reviewed journal articles (authorship!).

To apply:
Please send your CV and cover letter including your research experience (if any) to hello@backyardbrains.com. Tell us why you are interested in applying for an internship at BYB!

We Are:
Backyard Brains is a DIY Neuroscience company devoted to bringing the brain to everyone! Because everyone has a brain, that complex but extremely fascinating puppet master of the body. We need more people interested in studying the brain because 20% of the world will have a neurological disorder… and there are no cures! Historically, you need to be a graduate student with funding at a major university to study the brain, but not any more! Backyard Brains wants to help everyone be a neuroscientist! We provide affordable neuroscience experiment kits for students of all ages to learn (hands-on) about electrophysiology. Now everyone from schoolchildren to grad students and every grade in between can experiment with similar tools used by real neuroscientists worldwide! What will you discover?


Backyard Brains Amazes Neuroscientists at SFN 2019!

SFN 2019 is over. It came and went so quick! But now our, and your, work really gets grooving.

From poster sessions, to chats, to socials, and time well spent at our exhibit(!), we hope everyone who attended enjoyed their time in Chicago! We know we did! And if you didn’t make it out (probably many of you(!)) we have a wonderful retrospect below.

One of the best take-aways from SFN every year is the attendee’s reactions to our science and tools! Everyone should take a quick scroll through our “Citizen-Journalism Scrapbook” – Scientists make great social media advocates, and their enthusiasm for hands-on neuroscience is contagious!

A Scientist’s Social Media Game is FIRE

We captured much of our own adventure on Instagram! And if you haven’t subscribed, definitely give our Insta a follow.

Check out the Insta story here to see a scrapbook of our adventure in Chicago!

Then, not to be outdone, check out the fine citizen-journalism performed by a handful of the 27,000 attendees to SFN 2019.

Some of the highlights? Our Human-Human Interface was a crowd pleaser as always, and we featured a few new demonstrations, including a dramatic new “Brain-Computer Interface” which put one of our Brains in direct control of World of Warcraft!

Attendees walked away with new knowledge and enthusiasm for neuroscience outreach! Our hands-on demos prove that anyone can become a neuroscience educator. Furthermore… it’s not just a nice idea, it’s an urgent need! By inspiring a new generation of neuroscientists, together, we can all work to bring about the Neurorevolution! Thanks SFN, see you next year!