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Free NeuroRobots Teacher Workshop for Michiganders: Grab Your Spot Today!

neurorobots teacher workshop

It spins, wiggles or beeps when it detects certain colors and shapes. It chases or runs away from objects. It learns and solves problems, and does it all much like your own brain: thanks to neural networks comprising of neurons, synapses and an occasional shot of dopamine to reinforce this or that behavior. High school teachers of Michigan, say hello to the NeuroRobot (a.k.a. the SpikerBot)!

This little guy has been in the works for some time now, so you’ll get to test it along with a corresponding curriculum in a free 6.5-hour professional development workshop on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. Then, you’ll be able to bring the curriculum back into your classroom and implement it! We already ran this workshop in NYC earlier this year, with 30 NeuroRobots scampering off to the classrooms and a big waiting list as a result. Our point? Space is limited and it’s first come, first served, so you’ll want to secure your spot as quickly as possible.

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5 Brain Awareness Week Ideas (Apply Now to Get up to $1,250 in Grants!)

Brain Awareness Week Ideas

Second week of March is always a special time of year for brain buffs. That is when educators from around the world join in for neuroscience outreach in schools and local communities!

Money’s always scarce, but your organization doesn’t have to tap into its own funds. If you write up and submit a proposal within the next couple of weeks (through October 31), you may get up to $1,250 to fund your Brain Awareness Week (BAW) activities for next March. This year, the IBRO/Dana Foundation Grants Program was expanded by 60%, so your chances of winning are bigger than ever!

But where to begin? You don’t need to break your head over activity ideas. We have a lot of wildly popular, effective and customizable hands-on experiments that have already made many an appearance during previous BAWs. Or, if you prefer something new, you can always scour our blog for inspiration from our fellows and interns! All of our experiments were designed to be conducted in makeshift labs, classrooms or public spaces. Being attractive and appealing whether you’re reaching out to middle-schoolers, college students or the general public, they all stand for democratization of neuroscience.

But what if you can’t make the second week of March? No worries. You’re not in any way required to stick with the exact BAW dates (March 11-17, 2024), nor will it affect your chances of getting awarded. Do it whenever you want, as long as you use the official Brain Awareness Week branding.

5 Brain Awareness Week BYB Classics

The foremost reason why these experiments strike a chord with so many people is that they break down very complex and sophisticated concepts in a way that looks and feels lo-fi enough not to intimidate anyone. Being featured on TED doesn’t do them a disservice either!

Another reason why we chose them is that they don’t take a lot of time or equipment.

1. BAW All-Time Favorite: Human-Human Interface

Required: Human-Human Interface + Guide

What does it take to achieve control over another person’s arm so that it moves because you wanted it to move? In its essence, this is an experiment in advanced neuroprosthetics that’s cooked up for audiences as young as 5th grade!

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New Peer-Reviewed Paper on Fish Play Behavior (Classroom-Friendly Experiment!)

fish in aquarium chasing the laser pointer

Cats and dogs aren’t the only pets fond of chasing things that run away from them. Aquarium fish do it too, as shown in our new peer-reviewed paper that came out just last week in the “Animals” journal! Out of 66 fish species observed, nearly 90% showed interest in or set out to chase moving laser pointed dots.

What makes us especially proud is that the paper came as culmination of a yearlong research that began as our last year’s Fellow Sofia Eisenbeiser’s summer project. As scientists know it all too well, a single year is pretty fast and couldn’t make us more proud!

Another reason for pride is the fact that this research adds another layer of proof to what we’ve been saying all along: (neuro)science doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This particular experiment only requires a couple of things that many people already have: a fish tank with some inhabitants (the more, the merrier!) and a laser pointer or two. Incredibly easy to replicate in, say, your biology classroom!

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