Backyard Brains Wiki
Welcome to the Backyard Brains wiki page, an open-source experimental how-to's for teachers and amateurs alike. If you are a high school teacher, you may be interested in what Educational Standards we adhere to as well as the lesson plans we are beginning to assemble below.
Here is a list of experiments we are currently working on. If you see an error, or want to make it better/clearer, we encourage you to edit the section. To keep the spam robots at bay, please e-mail us if you want to get an account to this wiki.
|1||Getting Started with Spikes||In this module, you will listen to action potentials and view "spikes" in real time. An excellent starting point for your SpikerBox.|
|2||Introduction to Rate Coding||How do neurons encode information? One way is through rate coding.|
|3||Effect of Temperature on Neurons||Here, you can investigate the effect of temperature on the firing rate of neurons.|
|4||Somatotopy||By manipulating the barbs on the cockroach leg, you can learn basic principles of nervous system organization.|
|5||Microstimulation of Neurons and Muscles||It's the 1780's all over again. Investigate excitability of nervous and muscle tissue with this experiment.|
|6||Referencing your Spikes||There's no such thing as a perfect ground, but some grounds are better than others, depending on what you are studying.|
|7||Anuradha Rao Memorial Experiment: Effect of Nicotine and MSG on Neurons||We now move to the cricket cercal preparation to investigate neuropharmacology.|
|8||NeuroProsthetics||What if we fed the neural activity of one cockroach leg into another? Neural Engineering 101 in session.|
|9||Oxygen and Spiking||Why do we need so much of that simple molecule oxygen anyway? Here you find out.|
|10||Speed of Neurons||With our 2-Channel SpikerBox, you can measure how fast action potentials travel down a nerve. How fast are they?|
|11||The Faraday Cage||A simple piece of metal screening can drastically reduce electrical noise. But how does it work?|
If you are a teacher looking for more extensive experiment materials, you can use the links above to formal lesson plans () and associated powerpoint slides (). If you have used the SpikerBox in your classroom and have invented a new experiment, we would like to work with you to make your experiment available to others.
We have also compiled the full lessons in one large pdf. Expect this draft to grow and improve over time.
Note: Want answers to the discussion questions? E-mail us and we'll send them your way!
The following articles are not experiments, but rather good information to know.
|1||Ethical Issues Regarding Using Invertebrates in Education||We respond to commonly-raised questions regarding our work. You can use these as starting points in your classroom discussions on animal experiments.|
|2||Getting Your Recordings on a Computer for Analysis||Here we explain how to get your SpikerBox recordings on a computer so you can begin making data discoveries.|
|3||Cockroach Husbandry||We explain how to care for your cockroaches and crickets.|
|4||Louder SpikerBox||If you are doing a demo in a large classroom, here's how to make the spikes loud enough for everyone to hear.|
|5||DIY Smartphone Cable||If you have some spare parts and cables, you can make your own smartphone cable instead of buying it from us.|
|6||Two Channel Test||Ready to begin two channel experiments? Fancy! First you need to see if your laptop can record two analog channels.|
|7||Spikes Library||Would you like some sample recording files to play with? Here we begin our library of spikes from various creatures.|
|8||RoboRoach Surgery||A step-by-step description of how to install and demonstrate your RoboRoach Circuit|
Want to also teach some basic human neurophysiology? We will be slowly adding guest experiments on how to learn how human brains work through basic behavioral tests.
|1||How Your Eye Detects Color and Motion||What are the limits of color and motion detection by your eye? You can measure it with a friend.|
|2||How Your Skin Senses||How well does your skin and brain interpret touch information? Breakout the measuring tools and blindfold someone to find out.|
|3||How Fast Your Brain Reacts To Stimuli||What is the difference between reaction and reflex, and how fast is your reaction time? Sit someone down and record them catching falling objects to find out.|
Experiments, that for one reason or other, have flaws.
|1||Measuring Power Consumption in Neurons||Does the leg ever run out of ATP? Here's an advanced experiment to measure power consumption.|