There’s one thing that beats inspiring kids to take up neuroscience: Watching them not only catch the spark but pass it along! High schooler Supriya Nair is our case in point. Through scientific outreach using our SpikerBox, she has already ignited the interest of hundreds of her peers who got to see and feel the power of action potentials for the first time.
Her latest outreach triumph happened just this month at the 2024 Marathon Foils Tournament in Paris! There, she sparked the NeuroRevolution in dozens of young fencers from France, Italy, Germany, UK and other parts of the globe.
The reception in Paris was warm, and there was quite a lot to be learned too. “Most of my fellow fencers at the event were impressed with the data behind the adage that warming up is good,” Supriya tells us. “When we discussed a reduction of over 50 milliseconds in a 6ft lunge, there was a lot of excitement and cheering. I was humbled and really appreciated their time, everyone of the fencers from these countries were friendly, receptive and welcoming.”
The young neurofencer thus kick-started a string of international appearances where she is to empower fellow athletes to take up science and use it to level up their performance on the piste. And it’s not just fencers who may get interested in neuroscience. It’s also the other way round, as she’s about to prove in her next workshop in July, on the sidelines of Japan’s biggest annual neuroscience conference Neuro2024!
She has conquered much of America too, conducting upwards of 15 neurofencing workshops in California, Oregon, Arizona, Minnesota and at the SfN 2023 in Washington, D.C., where we met her in person.
Quite a meeting it was, and not just because we love cake! It was the annual Society for Neuroscience conference with over 25,000 attendees where she got to present her neurofencing poster in front of PhDs and postdocs.
Supriya isn’t new to being a state science fair laureate. Last year, this young fencer won the WSSEF award for measuring her muscles’ reaction time before and after warm-ups to improve her lunge performance.
This time around, she added the brain and heart into the equation, measuring her EEG, EKG and EMG with and without a 15-minute warm-up.
Backyard Brains’ mission is to spread neuroscience around the world. Our motto is Neuroscience for Everyone! So naturally, when a group of MIT undergraduate students led by Jiwon Kim contacted us, telling us that they were interested in our equipment for some classes they were teaching at Yeomyung School in Seoul, South Korea, we were very happy to help.
Yeomyung school is a school in downtown Seoul that helps North Korean refugees and children of North Korean refugees integrate into the South Korean society. The institute purchased four of our Heart and Brain SpikerBoxes to teach about the science of electrocardiograms (EKGs) and electroencephalograms (EEGs).
The equipment was delivered through our Korean distributor Osunhitech, who also attended the class with us. Backyard Brains helped teach the class and interacted with the students, along with the MIT students, Luyao Tian and Tiffany Louie, helping everyone with their experiments to see their own brain and heart rhythms.