This fall, we worked with two Michigan Public Libraries to bring a “DIY Neuroprosthetics Workshop” to local communities. The workshops were designed to introduce students and interested adults to the fundamentals of neuroscience: The experience began with participants recording their first Action Potential with the Neuron SpikerBox, then seeing the electrical activity of the brain and muscles, to finally controlling The Claw and other humans with the Human-Human Interface!
Whenever we work with K12 teachers or are in the classrooms ourselves, we are always delighted to hear about and see the enthusiasm that students have for engineering devices that help people. We like to call this “Tech that Helps.” As neuroscientists, we use lots of different tools to study, diagnose, and attempt to heal or repair the brain, body, and nervous system. But the kit and experience that we’ve seen inspire the most students is The Claw kit and lessons on Neuroprosthetics.
Students have described the experience to us like this: They are interested in robotics or engineering but don’t know much about neuroscience. Then, when they see that they can literally, as students, control a computer or robot with the signals from their brains and muscles, it blows their minds and opens up totally unimagined possibilities, inspiring them to learn more about neuroscience and biomedical engineering!
Many educators we work with travel to conferences and trainings around their home states and countries, and a few of them even take students! Amy Farkas, from Riverview Michigan, (Read more about her class here) took her 8th graders this past year to a handful of conferences to bring what they’ve learned to the real world. At the conferences, the students presented their work and research to other students, educators, and professionals.
We spoke with Amy to hear about the experience and the impact that neuroscience outreach had on the students. For more about her work in the classroom this past year, check out our other blog post: