Last year, we were introduced to a number of teachers who wanted to fund their classroom through DonorsChoose–check out our previous blog post about it! Mrs. Kielma is a biology and biotechnical engineering teacher at an urban school, and her DonorsChoose campaign was for a Human-Human Interface to explore biomedical engineering and neuroprosthetics. In her words, “One of the most fascinating things we’re researching is neuroscience and motor function – how an amputee can have a device attached to a limb that will respond to commands using only their THOUGHTS!”
An 8th Grader’s Exploration in DIY Neuroprosthetics
Several months ago, a crowdfunded classroom got their hands on several of our neuroprosthetic kits – like The Claw and the Muscle SpikerShield Bundle. This allowed students in Nokomis Regional schools to begin experimenting with hands-on neuroscience experiments! One of the students, 8th grader Kaiden K., was interested in developing a prosthetic, but his project had a twist question: What if we had a third thumb?
The Third Thumb
Kaiden’s project is twofold: First, it is a project on the history of prosthetics. From wooden hands to mechanical prosthetics, and now modern, low-cost DIY prosthetics, there have been a lot of remarkable developments along the way as we strive to create new opportunities for people to bring mobility and ability into their lives.
Using a 3D printer and the tools his teacher had crowdsourced on Donor’s Choose, Kaiden was able to develop a neuroprosthetic which anyone can plug into and control with their brain!
By recording from their muscles, Kaiden is able to put other students at the science fair in control of the prosthetic hand.
The second part of the project is still underway: developing a neuroprosthetic which anyone can wear which augments typical human ability and mobility, by adding the third thumb! To put it fantastically: Kaiden is developing cybernetic human enhancements. Literally, 8th graders are contributing to helping us become cyborgs! Too cool.
In an example of parallel, historic discovery – Kaiden had the idea for an extra thumb and began his RnD… then just like many other great minds, discovered he wasn’t the only one doing this work!
This idea has been explored by prosthetic designer Dani Clode – she gave a TEDx talk which is also a great watch!
See her TEDx talk here to learn more about the Third Thumb project.
We’re excited to see Kaiden further refine and develop his project. Kaiden wants to investigate multiple degrees of freedom, perhaps 2-axis control, and see what he can develop. We’ll be sure to update you as he continues experimenting!
Donors Choose continues to be a fantastic option for teachers who are determined to get DIY neuroscience tools into their classrooms, despite declining departmental budgets. With its Kickstarter-like backing program, Donors Choose gives educators another option for providing classroom equipment for their students without breaking the bank–by relying on the kindness of their community. While Backyard Brains tools are significantly better priced than most standard neuroscience equipment, we understand that sometimes a teacher needs a little extra help, and we are thrilled to see the number of Donors Choose campaigns that have chosen BYB tools as their goals!
Just to quickly put things into perspective, here are the funding outcomes (and one that is oh so close) of several DIY Neuroscience campaigns from this past June to date:
That’s over $4,000 in crowdfunded DIY Neuroscience tools in just three months! This is evidence that teachers and communities agree that enhancing a classroom’s traditional life sciences curriculum to include hands-on Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Electrophysiology, and Anatomy labs is a game winning strategy!
Below, we have compiled several examples of successfully funded campaigns. Take a look below to see how teachers and communities are working together to bring cutting-edge science to their students! Then, when you’re ready to start your own campaign to turn your students into DIY Neuroscience rockstars — check out the Donor’s Choose getting started guide below!