Backyard Brains Logo

Neuroscience for Everyone!

+1 (855) GET-SPIKES (855-438-7745)

items ()

2020 Summer Fellowship for 5-12 Grade Teachers

New from Backyard Brains: An in-depth summer training experience to help bring NGSS-aligned neuroscience lessons into your classroom. Do you want to learn how the brains of animals like crawdads or praying mantises work? Do you want to develop your own innovative experiments to take back to your students? Would you like to learn to communicate those stunning results with your peers and public through presentations, TED Talks and peer-reviewed articles? Maybe even all of the above? Then you’re in luck!

Call for Science Teachers:

The Backyard Brains Summer Teacher Fellowship program is our latest iteration of our successful neuroscience training program. This year we are inviting 5th to 12th grade teachers to participate in hands-on neuroscience research and experiment design with award winning neuroscientists. This paid summer fellowship will run from June 22, 2020 to July 31, 2020 in Ann Arbor, MI. During your time, you will develop a project-based lesson plan based on cutting-edge neuroscience, using all DIY tools.  All applications must be received by noon eastern time (12:00 PM, EST) on April 20, 2020 to be eligible. Then, we will be notifying applicants of their status by April 27, 2020.

The program is open to teachers of Michigan and beyond, so Apply today!

2017 Fellows from left to right: Top: Greg Gage (Not a fellow), Zach, Jaimie, Spencer, Nathan, Ilya. Bottom: Joud, Christy, Haley.

This is our 7th iteration of the program, and like a fine wine, it just gets better every year. Our fellowship is run much like a graduate school laboratory. All participants will be working on their own independent research projects for the whole summer. We will have daily journal clubs to go over key papers and expand knowledge in the area, and each participant will be trained how to develop their own experiments and to build their own devices to perform those experiments. To this end, you will be collecting data, analyzing it, and preparing the experiment for your classroom. The goal of the fellowship is for you to implement your research in your school next fall.

This is a great way to experience running multiple project based learning projects in a single classroom!  We will be working with education researchers from Purdue University to assist with the standards alignment.

The end result of your summer fellowship will be a publishable experiment and video for our website, as well as an actionable teaching plan for neuroscience in your classroom!  Moving forward this year, we want more manuscripts to be published in teaching peer-reviewed journals. Continuing Education Credits should be available.

Media Coverage of Past Intern Projects

We believe in engaging with the scientific community at all levels, and we’ve had some great press coverage for our past fellowship projects. One especially exciting collaboration was our DIY Neuroscience show with TED. Each DIY Neuroscience episode focused on a fellow and their summer projects, and can be viewed below or on TED’s website.

Last year, our first teacher fellow wrote a peer-reviewed paper on her research that has been accepted for publication in The American Biology Teacher this year! (Currently in Press.) We want to support more of this work with our fellowship this year, and we will work with you to complete a publishable manuscript during and after the fellowship! Other peer-reviewed papers generated as a result of this program are below:

Your Mentors

This summer you will be trained by Ph.D. Neuroscientists, inventors, makers, seasoned engineers, and public speakers.  With the help of our team, each fellow will complete a compelling demonstration that the public will be interested and delighted to see.  For example, see our recent TED talk on some of our fellows’ work.  Yours could be next!

Here’s some testimony from a former Fellow:

“The Backyard Brains summer internship is truly a once in a life time experience. Throughout the summer, we got to work as independent researchers on projects that one wouldn’t typically get to experience in a university setting, which allowed us to explore different realms of our scientific interests and grow immensely as scientists and individuals. I feel so fortunate to have been given the experience to pursue such a unique project, under the guidance of arguably the best boss in the entire world, Greg Gage. He provided guidance whenever we needed it while also allowing us the flexibility to execute a project from start to finish on our own terms. By the end of the summer, we were all able to showcase our work on an amazing platform, and conclude our projects feeling so confident in our abilities and excited to pursue whatever lie ahead for all of us as we returned to school/Work/etc.

I left the internship feeling more part of a family than a company and that is something I will have for the rest of my life. If I could do it over again, I would in a heartbeat!” -H. Smith, 2017 Fellow

Make Discoveries!

This year’s projects will be our most interesting and exciting ones yet! We are ironing out the details, but they will deal with a wide variety of organisms and topics including Crawdads, Scallops, Praying Mantis, Clam, Face Paint Paper Wasps, Manduca, Spiders, and human EEG.

Become a BYB Teacher Fellow in 2020,
and help bring the NeuroRevolution to classrooms all over!


Where does the fellowship take place?

You will be located at the Backyard Brains headquarters in downtown Ann Arbor (map). We are right next to campus, at the heart of a very walkable city. Our office does not have parking, so you will have to figure out a commute (Parking downtown is expensive and not recommended).

Can international teachers participate?

Yes, we consider all teachers from all continents.

How much are the fellows paid?


How much is housing and can you help us find it?

While we do not pay for your housing, we are happy to inform you that summer housing is notoriously easy to find in Ann Arbor, as students leave for the summer and make available sublets. The price varies, but you can find sublet housing on craigslist for under $400. We recommend that you stay close to downtown/central campus.

Is there time off for vacations?

While you will have ample free time in Ann Arbor, we ask that you make the commitment to stay on project for the entire length of the internship.

Are projects assigned to interns or do the interns get some autonomy in deciding the course of their research?

The summer projects are described above and in the fellowship application. Each fellow will submit the project that they are interested during this process, or can suggest their own ideas. We keep the applicant’s preferences in mind, and we pair fellows with a project early on so that they will have some time to do some background reading and familiarize themselves with the organism/methods. While we have some idea of the direction or end result of a project, we encourage independent thought throughout the process–some of our most successful projects have come from slight deviations from the original goals. We will send out some suggested papers a few weeks before the program starts.

What about this letter of reference?

For the references, we are looking specifically for someone who could provide a reference or a letter of reference for you. There is no real format for the letter of reference, as we’re just looking for someone who has worked for you or instructed you and has some good things to say!

A Fun and Productive Teacher Training Workshop: These Teachers are Neuro-Nerds!

Following the previous success of our 3-day Teacher Training workshop at the end of the 2019 Calendar Year – we decided to kick-off 2020 with a free workshop for educators, open to all!

So we set a date… Jan 31st, shot out some emails, and hoped we wouldn’t be eating bagels and cream cheese alone in the office on the morning of the workshop! Far from alone, we had 10 passionate educators join us, from classroom teachers to curriculum designers and even graduate students involved in neuroscience outreach! Some came from local, Ann Arbor schools, and some drove much further, or even flew(!) to attend the event!

The day was booked well ahead of time. Our goal was to cover both intro and intermediate materials to enable these educators to improve how they teach both invertebrate and human physiology in their science outreach and in their STEM, Biology, and Neuroscience classes

Starting with some Invertebrate Physiology, the educators covered strategies for teaching science with Model Organisms, performed live neuron recordings from the cockroach leg prep, and practiced both introductory and advanced analytics approaches to better understand how the nervous system works and how we, as scientists, can begin quantifying electrical phenomena from within the nervous system.

Then we dove into some human physiology experiments, covering muscle activity, reflexes, and reaction times! These labs are quick and quantifiable, and the educators experience first-hand how they can be used to unpack a lot of big ideas in a short amount of time! For example, reactions and reflexes are different… but why? And a much broader question, how does “information” get from a to b? What is the speed(s) of information?

And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without some hands-on time with the Human-Human Interface! This inspired shock, laughter, and intrigue from all the attendees. It really is an experience that needs to be felt to be believed.

Everyone agreed – it was a productive day! The educators responded that the material we covered would not only help them teach NEUROSCIENCE better, but it gave them strategies to teach SCIENCE better!

Our next opportunity for a shorter-form introductory training session is a February Webinar. Click this link or the image below to register, and keep an eye out on our blog for future opportunities!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is EI-byb-webinar.jpg

Educational Innovations Webinar: Wire Me Up! (Feb 20)

Would you like all the benefits of a Backyard Brains workshop without leaving the comfort of your desk chair? Our friends and partners at Educational Innovations can help! On February 20, 2020, from 4:00-4:30pm EST, Educational Innovations will be hosting a webinar on Neuroscience in the K-12 Classroom!

The Details…
What: a free, 30-minute webinar from EI and BYB
When: February 20, 2020 from 4:00-4:30pm EST
Where: your computer!

The Subject…
-Discover how your K-12 students can perform REAL neuroscience and biofeedback experiments in the classroom!
-Learn how to bring REAL mind control into your classroom as you teach your students to create their own brain-machine interfaces and cyborgs!
-Find out more about these hands-on, minds-on, groundbreaking neuroscience kits!

The Cost
Absolutely free! Just register at the button below, and log in on February 20 at 4:00pm EST!

Join in for a cool opportunity to learn more about neuroscience through Backyard Brains products!