Grant Providers Agree, Neuroscience is Worth the Investment
Several months ago, Mr. Skoczylas, an Elementary Tech Coordinator, was trying to figure out how to best introduce young students in his district to the intersection of Life Sciences and STEM. As you know, at Backyard Brains, our tools and labs make it easy for students to begin performing their very own Neuroscience experiments!
Mr. Skoczylas thought the best start would be to begin with an after-school Neuroscience club where passionate students could gather to explore neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and human physiology! This way several other teachers could get involved as well and students wouldn’t be restricted by age, grade, or class.
There was, however, a hurdle: funding. But that was only a small bump in the road, as Mr. Skoczylas sought out and secured funding through a local opportunity!
The #MacGrant is a series of grants made available to educators in PA, WV, OH, and MD. And among many other winners this year, Mr. Skoczylas’s project was approved and awarded funding!
Congratulations to Mr. Skoczylas – we are looking forward to working with him and his team to bring exciting, hands-on neuroscience to their district! We’ll be sure to keep you posted about their progress.
Curious about other examples of successful, grant-funded implementations? Check out the blog post below!
Help us win a Grant to Empower a New Generation of Sports Scientists!
Through our adventures at Backyard Brains over the years, we have come to love electromyography, muscle coordination, and the body in movement. We have already begun some classes where we teach muscle physiology through sport! We recently applied for a grant to devote more resources to this new area for us. We made a quick and dirty video under deadline at a local school, and to move to the next phase of the competition, we need eyeballs and likes. Help us out with your screens and your thumbs if you want to!
This is to further develop our fledgling work into making quantitative sports-science an accessible field of research for K12 students!
We’ve tried three sports so far, all favorites of Backyard Brains: baseball, basketball, and soccer. For baseball, we attached electrodes to the triceps while students threw the ball at greater and greater distances. However, the act of throwing a baseball is so violent and fast that the cables would always fly off, making an unstable interface, to put it mildly.
We next tried basketball, with muscles again on the triceps, but our students were pretty young, around 11-13, and they had a hard time launching the basketball with enough force (and good form) to actually reach the basket. Even on adults like ourselves, we did not notice an obvious difference between 2 point and 3 point throws.
Our last attempt was with soccer. We placed electrodes on the quadriceps, and we had markings on the outside gym floor with masking tape of 5 ft, 10 ft, 15 ft, 20 ft, 25 ft, etc.
With this experiment, it was very obvious that the EMG amplitude of the quadriceps contraction increased with the greater distance that the students had to kick the soccer ball, teaching about motor unit recruitment and electrophysiology in a very entertaining way. Learn more about the experiment and the results here!
We have on experiment up currently which teaches students how to study and model Rates of Muscle Fatigue – this is a great intro lab as it can be modified and applied to many sports labs!
There are numerous examples of sports scientists using EMG activity to study the efficiency of different movements, the relationships between strength and endurance, and the difference between skilled and unskilled athletes! We want students who are passionate about their sport to contribute to this body of knowledge, and we want to provide affordable and accessible tools, along with free introductory resources so they can get started running (literally!) Weightlifting, rock climbing, football, futbol, gymnastics, tennis, baseball, shuffleboard… the possibilities are limitless!
This is just the beginning, and we will continue looking for ways to incorporate sport into our physiology experiments, as it makes teaching at the middle and high school very engaging. We would all rather be outside and move our bodies than sit at a desk, anyway.
We’d encourage you to watch the youtube video we linked above, and if you love this project, please like the video! It will help us to win this funding and help bring the experiments to life.