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Neuroscience for Everyone!

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Lifelong Learners Perform Neuroscience Experiments!

Seeing her EMG signal for the first time!

Ph.D. student and friend of Backyard Brains, Brinnae Bent of Duke University, recently hosted a class for seniors participating in the “Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke (OLLI at Duke).” With help from some colleagues at North Carolina State University, she put on an afternoon workshop in Electrophysiology for these lifelong learners.

From its website, “OLLI at Duke offers a wide array of courses in literature, history, religion, philosophy, natural sciences, social sciences, performing arts, art and architecture, economics, finance, computers and lifestyle issues.”

Participants in the Osher class performed e-phys experiments using our Muscle SpikerShield Bundles! The participants were excited to see their very own EMG signals and to test their strength against the LED array on the SpikerShield. And, as it often does, discussion turned towards the implications of the technology and the importance of bringing this education to more people.

Discussing and Understanding Principles of Electrophysiology

We’re always excited to see what our friends and colleagues are doing with our kits! If you ever feel inspired to do some outreach of your own, please feel free to send us some photos and a brief description of the experience and we’ll be sure to include it on our site!

Testing their Strength!


Backyard Brains Open House: Ann Arbor Tech Trek

BYB 2016 Fellows @ Tech Trek Last Year

This Friday 3pm – 7pm, Backyard Brains will be hosting an open house as part of this year’s A2 Tech Trek! This is a fun, annual event which coordinates open houses at dozens of local tech companies. This event showcases the vibrant tech company and startup community in Ann Arbor and is a chance for the public to see all the cool development going on in “hidden” office spaces around the city. You never know what kind of cool tech could be living in the office suites above a Ben and Jerry’s…

The event is free, but registration is required: Click Here to Register!

To help promote the event, BYB’s Greg Gage was recently featured on Live in the D, a local news program highlighting events in Southeastern Michigan. Greg Gage recorded Chuck Gaidica’s EMG signals and then, with the Human-To-Human Interface, helped Chuck control Bill Mayer of Ann Arbor SPARK, the organizer of the Tech Trek!

To see the video, follow this link:

See the Video!

We’ll be at our office, located at 308 1/2 State Street, all afternoon to give demonstrations and talk shop! Also, our summer research fellows will be down at All Hands Active, a community makerspace located downstairs at 255 E Liberty St. They are excited to talk with you about their projects! In case you missed any of them, here are the research projects! Your homework is to come prepared with a question for one of the fellows! There just might be a free sticker in it for you if you do…

For more information on the Tech Trek, check out:

From their website:

“Ann Arbor Tech Trek is a free community event and a terrific opportunity to see the real gems located inside the doors of many area tech companies. It’s also a chance to see what’s unique about downtown Ann Arbor.

Leading technology companies will open their doors to the public and showcase their latest innovations. Whether you’re a job seeker, student, professional, or someone curious about the Ann Arbor tech community, anyone is welcome to attend.

Each stop on the trek will create a fun, educational experience that reflects each company’s unique culture. Those on the tour will also enjoy refreshments, prizes, t-shirts, and giveaways.

Tech Trek is a win-win for companies, community, and a great way for the youth to explore possible career paths.”


We hope to see you Friday! Either at our office or at All Hands Active!

Fellowship Update: Learning the BYB Way and Preparing to Blog

Happy Memorial day! We hope that you are enjoying yourself on this day of remembrance.

The 2017 fellows have survived their first, grueling week… their days were packed with excitement, learning, and planning! They’ve got a lot of work to do developing their research projects over the next several weeks, but this first week was a great opportunity for them to learn about Backyard Brains, our approach to science, and our kits.

Some fellows were already thinking about expensive microphones and other recording equipment, so we gently reminded them that a high school teacher or a student wouldn’t be able to get such expensive equipment. The spirit of Backyard Brains is in accessibility and reproducibility! To reiterate this point, we trained the fellows on, and had them perform experiments with, the Spikerbox, The Claw, Human-Human-Interface, the RoboRoach, Heart and Brain Spikershield, and Plant Shield. These demonstrations were punctuated, like always, with exclamations like “What?! Do it again,” and “Oh my god, our planet is so alive!” These experiments all used to require expensive lab equipment, but have been made more affordable now thanks to efforts like the fellowship projects.

There are many tools that DIY scientists and communities use, so we began training the fellows on some of our prototyping tools. They learned how to use our Laser Cutter, the 3D printer, and they practiced their soldering skills! The fellows also held daily journal clubs this week. Journal club is a great way for a group to tackle tricky scientific publications together, which is exactly what the fellows have been practicing with publications related to their own projects.

The fellows have the holiday off today, and they’ve got a barbecue to attend later this evening, but tomorrow they all dive into the meat of our work!

The fellows also start writing blog updates tomorrow! Each fellow will be posting updates on our blog documenting their scientific journey. These posts are “behind the scenes,” or rather everything you don’t know about taking a project from an idea, to an experiment, to a publication. They’re excited to introduce themselves to you, and we know you’re excited to meet them!

Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for these updates! Also, if you don’t follow us yet on social media, please join our newsletter for monthly updates, and Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for a window into our little corner of the world.