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Apply Now for Brain Awareness Week Outreach Grants – Cerebrate the Brain!

brain awareness week grants

Are you a member of an organization or institution committed to celebrating the wonders of the brain and bringing them from academic heights down to your local community?

If yes, now is the time to apply for Brain Awareness Week (BAW) Outreach Grants for US and Canada! Grantees will be awarded up to $1,500 that they can use to organize events and spread the love for Citizen Neuroscience to kids, adults, budding scientists, and just about any curious soul.

Brain Awareness Week Grants
Last year’s outreach event accross the Northwest: NW Noggin, an organization of brain enthusiasts, amazed kids with our very own Human-Human Interface.

Who’s Eligible for These Grants?

Any or all partners of the Dana Foundation are eligible to apply for these funds. Partnership is free but you will need to cover the cost of organizing the event. All the more reason to try and get the award to cut down on your costs!

Take a look at the list below and see if you fit any of these types of organizations:

  • K12 schools
  • Hospitals
  • Colleges and universities
  • Neuroscience & medical research organizations and facilities
  • Outreach organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Commercial organizations

But even if you don’t get a grant, Dana Foundation offers lots of FREE perks you can avail yourself of as a partner: event planning ideas and tips, promotion materials, outreach tools and calendars, handouts. The worthiest of all benefits is that you get to network or team up with other partners. (Speaking from our personal experience!)

As part of this application, you will to provide a full program of the activities you plan to organize during Brain Awareness Week, with as many details as possible. Lots of things to do, so hurry – the deadline is November 6!

What Is Brain Awareness Week?

Since its inception back in 1996, BAW has grown into a huge campaign that has so far reached 117 countries across all continents. But even though it’s a global initiative, its core impact is where it matters the most – locally. What better way to promote citizen science than to appeal to the citizens themselves?

Especially because promoting neuroscience to diverse audiences from all walks of life has never been easier and more affordable, what with all the inexpensive yet powerful electrophysiology kits such as BYB’s very own inventions! (Which have already toured the nation as part of Brain Awareness Week, by the way!)

This provides a unique opportunity to become part of the elaborate network of institutions that are all aligned with the same goal: to show the world that neuroscience IS for everyone!

As always, the campaign is scheduled for late March – or more precisely, March 15-21, 2021. But as this year taught us, not all Marches were made equal. Due to a probability of a prolonged COVID crisis, participants will be able to host their 2021 BAW events online or in-person – or both!

Celebrate or cerebrate? Why not do both at the same time!


Citizen Science Sleepaway Camp: BYB Visits Campus Party Brazil

Before I spill the Feijoada about Backyard Brains’ awesome experience at Campus Party Brazil, I should mention that I firmly believe that education can save the world. I should also mention that in regards to our brains, according to neuroscience research, your education lasts your entire life.

I’ll cut to the chase: my recent Brazilian adventure with Backyard Brains has inspired me to write this to promote lifelong education and moreover, to remind you that learning can be enjoyable and even thrilling. It certainly doesn’t have to be bound to a classroom. Keep in mind that evolutionarily speaking, survival did not depend on absorbing curated lesson plans 8 hours a day in a classroom, but upon chaotic and reactive information-gathering experiences.

At birth our brains develop at an extremely rapid rate. Babies form new neurons at a rate of 250,000 every minute! By the time a child is three years old, their brain will reach 80% of adult volume and create close to 1000 trillion connections between billions of neurons. There is a prevailing myth about the brain that after a certain age we stop forming new neurons. This has been dispelled by current research and it’s clear that the brain has an amazing ability to change throughout life. This is called neuroplasticity and it’s the brain’s ability for our neurons to rewire and add new neurons in regions involved in learning throughout our lifetimes. Believe it or not, these new neurons show the same plasticity as seen in the rapidly developing brain of newborns. On top of that, the adult brain uses about 25% of the body’s metabolic energy despite being on average only 2% of our entire body weight. So considering that a quarter of your energy going to supporting you brain, which has this amazing adaptability to develop and optimize throughout life, why not continually take advantage of your own brain’s superpower of learning?

So, what if we threw super-fun, non-stop parties that were also packed full of learning opportunities? What if these events ran non-stop for up to a week straight? What if we invited world leaders of technology, entertainment, innovation, creativity and science to give inspiring keynote speeches and exciting, intimate workshops? Would the world become a better place?

No need to ponder any further: this type of forward-thinking, multidisciplinary educational party already exists! It’s called Campus Party and Backyard Brains had a blast earlier this year at Campus Party Brazil!

The very first Campus Party to happen in all of Asia is coming soon. This July 6th – 8th, join us at Campus Party Singapore! Backyard Brains will be there putting on two workshops each day. Come learn about neuroscience with us through fun hands-on experiments. You can create your own cyborg cockroach in the RoboRoach Workshop and control your friend’s mind in the Human Interface Workshop. We hope to see you there!!
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MATLAB <3 BYB + Arduino

Why buy, when you can build? Madhu Govindarajan of MathWorks recently used one of our old products to make his very own heart rate detector. The Heart & Brain SpikerShield (recently replaced by our Heart and Brain SpikerBox) was designed to help the user view and record the action potentials of their heart easily, and Madhu has harnessed this basic concept to create his own heart rate detector.

In the demo, Madhu explains how to use the MATLAB and Simulink programs to filter the raw ECG, compute the heart rate value, and display it on a thin-film-transistor LCD screen (very high resolution, with a transistor for each pixel), called a TFT screen. The actual TFT screen is available here, and Madhu’s team used the libraries available as well as their own custom modifications to create a recognizable ECG display. Sounds very BYB, if we do say so ourselves.

MATLAB (matrix laboratory) is a programming language developed by MathWorks used by neuroscientists and engineers alike to do a lot of data analysis. It’s a powerful tool that pairs nicely with open source gear like ours, and there are accessible versions available to young coders for learning and development. This example is a higher-level high school or undergrad experiment, and we are excited to see ways in which we can expand use for the high school level! For more information on using MATLAB in schools, check out this Mathworks webpage.

MathWorker Tom Bryan primarily worked on the signal processing code behind the video, and he had this to say about our work: “BYB will be my go-to for neuroscience hardware from now on, because they are the only reliable company making good products.” Thanks for the high praise, Tom!

We love to hear your stories. If you have done something cool with our gear, drop us a note at hello@backyardbrains.com to brag about it a little!