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First Place at Science Fair for Student using BYB Gear

My name is Azrin Khan and I am currently a junior (11th grade) in Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet Senior High School in California. My purpose is to build a device which will alert humans when they are going to have muscle cramps, and it will keep a record of the intensity of the cramp and how many times it happened. In addition to that, I am also going to build an app where all the data will be stored, and their doctor will also have access to the data so that any health issues can be determined and kept in control. This is an idea I got after watching all the diseases that have muscle cramps as their symptoms, and I believe having muscle cramps should not be neglected but it should be greatly taken care of and kept track of.

I asked Backyard Brains if they could help me with my project, and so I started to work with their Muscle SpikerShield. At the Bravo/USC Science and Engineering Fair last month, I won First Place in my category which was Mathematics and Computer Sciences.

Engineering Goal

The goal of this project was to construct a device which will assist epileptics to be alerted of their condition, and alert others around them to be on the lookout for danger when muscles contract abnormally in the body. Also, code to interpret the data recorded from the device into a human understandable language and using a live graph to plot real-time data which will be useful to both the individual and doctors and other professionals to be updated on the most recent conditions. This is the very first device that uses the electrical potential measured from muscle contraction to identify muscle cramps.

Overview of Project

This project uses an alarming device which sounds whenever muscles contract abnormally in a person’s body so that others nearby can also be aware of the patient’s condition. To test if the device was working, I tested on Lumbricus Terrestris (earthworms) and measured the electrical potential for 30 seconds on each earthworm. The device can also record the electrical potential every second so that the recorded information can be shared with their doctors and other professionals through these updates regarding their conditions. The live graph uses Python 2.7.15, and Python IDLE was used as the developing environment. Piezo Speakers connected to the Arduino Uno and Backyard Brains’ Muscle SpikerShield combination device alarms as soon as the electrical potential units reach 95 to 100. In the future, I would like to use an app to make the live graph available to doctors so that they can keep up with their patient’s health.

Results

In conclusion, my device is functioning properly and in addition to my device, I’ve also designed a shirt with a pocket on the left sleeve that patients can use to hold their devices (see below). The Bravo/USC Science and Engineering Fair 2019 was a huge success for me. In my category, Computer Science and Mathematics, there were very impressive projects; someone used a drone to construct a gas sensor, while another participant coded a website that is designed to help people with OCD. I had a total of three judges who interviewed me, and two of the judges were professors from the KECK School of Medicine of USC and another judge was a lab PI also from the KECK School of Medicine of USC.

Prototype Design



If you have any examples of our gear in the field, don’t hesitate to email us and share your stories! Send us a note at hello@backyardbrains.com 


NGSS Aligned Neuroscience

It can’t be avoided: the standards must be met! While we encourage educators everywhere to break free from the shackles of bureaucratic granularity in education… we also admit that education standards perform a necessary function. There are educational and developmental milestones that all students should achieve, and it is the goal of the standards to ensure our nation’s youth reach them! TL;DR? Read to the bottom to see the NGSS alignment chart!

For educators on the outset, the standards help you develop your scope and sequence. The NGSS, in particular, are great as they focus on “three-dimensional learning” and hands-on inquiry, offering students the opportunity to be scientists. This can help any teacher develop a curriculum that will encourage skepticism and problem-solving.

But for the teachers who want to develop radical new lesson plans, experiences, and who may even want their students to “Fail”
(in the best way!) over and over again as they tackle an incredibly tough problem, there may be hours of content in the course that don’t meet a specific standard, despite the fact that students are learning valuable lessons about what it means to be a scientist, to perform their own research, to fail, fail fail, and finally achieve something unique and new. But, in order to help your students earn this experience, while still ticking every box on your standards, it requires you to be very economical with their class time.

Our kits and experiments at Backyard Brains offer a great opportunity for you to meet tricky standards in a meaningful way (like MS LS1-8). The same kits are also powerful tools for teachers looking to buck the trend and throw their students into uncharted territories, like encouraging your middle school and high school students to perform and present their own independent research projects!

Check out this map which cross-aligns many of our kits and experiments with NGSS standards and the “Neuroscience Core Concepts,” a set of guiding principals set forth by the “Society for Neuroscience” which offer teachers a roadmap for critical knowledge and skills that can help a K12 student on their way to a career in Neuroscience. Don’t let your “Scope and Sequence” limit you and your students’ potential; rather, leverage these standards and tools like ours to inspire a culture of problem-based learning where your students will still learn the unchanging, fundamental skills and ideas, but then apply that knowledge to new and novel questions.

The Standards

While not completely comprehensive, check out this infographic and following list is to guide you to the kits and experiments which may best fit holes in your current scope and sequence!

Heart and Brain SpikerBox

DIY EEG Recordings from the Human Brain

  • 4-PS4-2
  • 4-LS1-2
  • MS-LS1-1
  • MS-LS1-2
  • MS-LS1-3
  • MS-LS1-4
  • MS-LS1-5
  • MS-LS1-8

Record from the Autonomic Nervous System

  • HS-LS1-2

The P300 Surprise Signal

  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4

Muscle SpikerBox Pro

Record Electricity from your Muscles

  • 4-PS4-1
  • 4-PS4-3
  • 4-LS1-2

EMGs During Muscle Fatigue

  • HS-LS1-7

Modeling Rates of Fatigue / Muscle Recruitment While Chewing / Acoustic Brain Response

  • MS-PS3-1
  • MS-PS3-5
  • MS-ETS1-1
  • MS-ETS1-2
  • MS-ETS1-3
  • MS-ETS1-4
  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4

How Fast can your Brain React? – Recording the Patellar Reflex

  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4
  • 4-PS4-1
  • 4-PS4-3
  • 4-LS1-2

Neuron SpikerBox Pro

Record and Manipulate Live Neurons

  • 4-PS4-1
  • P-PS4-3
  • MS-LS1-1
  • MS-LS1-2
  • MS-LS1-8
  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4
  • HS-PS4-5

Record from Agonist and Antagonist Pairs

  • MS-LS1-3

Measuring the Conduction Velocity of a Nerve

  • MS-PS3-1
  • MS-PS3-5
  • MS-ETS1-1
  • MS-ETS1-2
  • MS-ETS1-3
  • MS-ETS1-4
  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4

Plant SpikerBox

Venus Flytrap Electrophysiology

  • 4-LS1-1
  • 4-LS1-2
  • 5-LS1-1
  • 5-LS2-1
  • MS-LS1-5

Venus Flytrap ElectrophysiologySensitive Mimosa ElectrophysiologyPlant-Plant Communicator

  • HS-L21-2
  • HS-L21-3
  • HS-L21-5
  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4

Human-Human Interface

Advanced NeuroProsthetics: Take Someone’s Free Will

  • MS-LS1-1
  • MS-LS1-2
  • MS-LS1-3
  • MS-LS1-8

Muscle SpikerShield Bundle

All Arduino SpikerShield Labs

  • MS-ETS1-1
  • MS-ETS1-2
  • MS-ETS1-3
  • MS-ETS1-4
  • HS-ETS1-1
  • HS-ETS1-2
  • HS-ETS1-3
  • HS-ETS1-4

Brain Awareness Week

Every year in late March, scientists across the world band together to participate in Brain Awareness week, an extended event created by The Society for Neuroscience and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to expose kids to neuroscience research. It is a week-long celebration of the brain, really, with participants ranging from universities to government agencies in over 120 countries! Here at Backyard Brains, we are all about hands-on neuroscience education, so we’ve put together a list of some of our Greatest Hits experiments to spice up your week!

There are a lot of typical experiments used as a go-to for talking about the brain and introducing kids to thinking about it, like looking at cross-sections of sheep brains or listening to a talk on neurons, but what if you don’t have any sheep brains on hand? We have found that the best way to get kids excited about the brain is to get them into really interactive experiments, ones where they can move things and see reactions in real time, and this is the basis of our Muscle/Neuroengineering line of products.

At Backyard Brains, we are always striving to make neuroscience accessible, and our demonstrations are some of the best ways to do that! Often when we are at conferences, we call on civilians approaching our booth to help us out as we showcase a new experiment, proving that neuroscience is truly for everyone. Here are some experiments that we have noticed are some of the biggest crowd-pleasers.

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