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Free NeuroRobots Teacher Workshop for Michiganders: Grab Your Spot Today!

neurorobots teacher workshop

It spins, wiggles or beeps when it detects certain colors and shapes. It chases or runs away from objects. It learns and solves problems, and does it all much like your own brain: thanks to neural networks comprising of neurons, synapses and an occasional shot of dopamine to reinforce this or that behavior. High school teachers of Michigan, say hello to the NeuroRobot (a.k.a. the SpikerBot)!

This little guy has been in the works for some time now, so you’ll get to test it along with a corresponding curriculum in a free 6.5-hour professional development workshop on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. Then, you’ll be able to bring the curriculum back into your classroom and implement it! We already ran this workshop in NYC earlier this year, with 30 NeuroRobots scampering off to the classrooms and a big waiting list as a result. Our point? Space is limited and it’s first come, first served, so you’ll want to secure your spot as quickly as possible.

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Neurorobot: Scientific Paper Published

Start the presses! Backyard Brains has a new publication! Our Neurorobot paper is titled “Neurorobotics Workshop for High School Students Promotes Competence and Confidence in Computational Neuroscience.” You can read the article in its entirety on the Frontiers in Neurorobotics website–because we believe neuroscience knowledge is for everyone, and no one should have to pay for access! The paper details our recent work developing the methodologies essential for making neurorobotics accessible in high school classrooms.

We began the Neurorobot project in 2018, when notable neuroscientist Christopher Harris joined the team with his gaggle of “brain-based rugrats” in tow. The Neurorobot aimed to bring neurorobotics more enticing to high school learners, and we quickly started to brainstorm (pun intended!) how we would implement such experiments in schools.

The Neurorobot Workshops

Chris ran the workshop at 2 high schools, sharing his 1-week Neurorobot workshop with nearly 300 students total. The students piloted the Neurorobot App developed for controlling the bots, and were able to provide feedback on the successes and shortcomings of the workshops.

The workshops were targeted to give students a base of knowledge and increase their confidence on the scientific topics studied. Both prior to and after the week-long sessions, students were presented a quiz, and their responses were analyzed for retention and comfort level. We found a significant improvement on all content questions, showcasing the effectiveness of our learning tools.

The Neurorobot Fellowship Project

If you recall, one of our fellows spent his summer working on the Neurorobot project. Ilya worked on coding the machine learning and computer vision aspects of the bot. Throughout the summer, he made progress posts, which can be found below:

Next Steps

There is nothing like hands-on application to showcase room for improvement, and our Neurorobotics Workshop definitely did so! We ran into some unexpected issues and tried to adapt on the fly, and we are so excited to keep this momentum going. Based on our successes, we hope to pilot more Neurorobotics programs in the future! Is your school interested? If you would like more information on how to get involved, email christopher@backyardbrains.com!


The Fellowship of the Brain: 2018 Summer Research Fellowship Concludes

The Backyard Brains 2018 Summer Research Fellowship is coming to a close, but not before we get some real-world scientific experience in! Our research fellows are nearing the end of their residency at the Backyard Brains lab, and they are about to begin their tenure as neuroscience advocates and Backyard Brains ambassadors. The fellows dropped in on University of Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Symposium during their final week of the fellowship, and each scientist gave a quick poster presentation about the work they’d been doing this summer! The fellows synthesized their data into the time-honored poster format and gave lightning-round pitches of their work to attendees. BYB is in the business of creating citizen scientists, and this real-world application is always a highlight of our fellowship. Check out their posters below!

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