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Brain Awareness Week Brings Hands-On Neuroscience to All

Check out these awesome examples of Citizen Neuroscience!

Another Brain Awareness week has come and gone. But if you missed it, don’t think you can’t still get involved with Neuroscience Outreach! Organized by the Dana Foundation, Brain Awareness Week is a chance for educators to highlight neuroscience!

Whether you want to teach neuroscience in your classroom, or you and your students want to educate the public, our resources at Backyard Brains are powerful assets for all citizen neuroscientists.

You don’t have to take my word for it…

I’ll let the public do the talking! Check out these awesome examples from Twitter of Brain Awareness Week events featuring hands-on, educational neuroscience.

The admissions counselors LOVE Neuroscience outreach, and dreams do come true!

One last little observation we observed on Twitter… congrats to the recent acceptance!

Brain Awareness week may be over, but that doesn’t mean neuroscience outreach is ever out of fashion! Check out our Experiments and Store for information about how to bring these demos, and more, to life for students in the classroom, strangers at the bar, or wherever educational outreach may take you

NW Noggin Inspires Students with Hands-On Neuroscience Experiences

In honor of Brain Awareness Week this month, we want to spotlight an organization fighting the good fight and working to bring the NeuroRevolution to as many schools as possible! NW Noggin (Northwest Neuroscience Outreach Group: Growing in Networks) is a neuroscience outreach group based in Portland, Oregon that has been introducing students to electrophysiology across the Pacific Northwest! With the help of our Human-Human Interface, NW Noggin has traveled to 14 different events in their area, and they’ve helped over 3,000 students investigate the power of their muscles’ electricity as of March 1, 2019!

NW Noggin is a collaborative effort, and everyone involved is a volunteer, dedicating their time and expertise to helping kids all over engage with science and art. Different local groups send representatives as well, such as the Neuroscience Club at Portland State University. Aaron Eisen is a member of the PSU Neuroscience Club, and he has been leading the charge with their BYB outreach. “The impact is astounding. Kids who are not normally engaged in classrooms are captivated by abilities of this device,” Aaron says of the students’ reaction to the HHI. Getting kids excited about neuroscience and understanding how their own bodies work is an essential part of nurturing a budding scientist, and we aim to do just that with all of our products here at Backyard Brains.

Events hosted by NW Noggin work to combine hands-on science and art, such as modeling neurons and nervous systems with the ever-present pipe cleaners, using these concrete crafts to learn about neurons and axons and how they cause muscles in the body to move. Then, the events often move on to to studying the students’ own muscles and electrophysiology, using our “control freak” bundle of brain-machine interfaces.

Thank you Backyard Brains for helping us connect so many young people to neuroscience research, and a better understanding of their developing bodies and brains!” You’re very welcome, NW Noggin! Keep up the good work!

Brain Awareness Week is an initiative started by the Dana Foundation to shine a spotlight on neuroscience every year in March. Find out how you can become a partner and host your own event in your community by visiting their website!

DIY Neuroprosthetics: A Third Thumb?

The Third Thumb

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!

Required Kit:
Muscle SpikerShield

Develop your own Neuroprosthetics using the Muscle SpikerShield!

Buy The Muscle SpikerShield