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The Talon Tribune

The Talon Tribune

Neuroscience Class Turns Cockroaches Into Cyborgs

Evy Deaton
Fiona Henry a Silver Creek senior holding cyborg roach after completing the experiment.

The Neuroscience class at the St Vrain Valley Schools’s Innovation Center in Longmont is pushing boundaries by integrating at-home neuroscience into their curriculum. The Innovation Center provides advanced coursework opportunities for high schoolers as well as hands-on mentorship in specific fields of interest. One standout program that has captured the students’ imagination is the use of Roboroach from Backyard Brains, a project that enables students to control real roaches using their smartphones.
Backyard Brains’ Roboroach program is designed to provide a hands-on experience for students interested in neuroscience. The physical kit includes the necessary tools to perform experiments, allowing students to delve into the nervous system of live cockroaches. The kit connects to a smartphone app, enabling students to send electrical signals to the roaches’ neurons, essentially controlling their movements.
Teacher at Innovation Center Jamie Snyder expressed her enthusiasm stating, “I loved seeing the kids explore and work through trial and error during the experiment.”
This hands-on approach not only engages students actively but also promotes critical thinking skills as they navigate the complexities of neuroscience.
One senior from Silver Creek High School, Fiona Henry, shared her initial reservations about experimenting on cockroaches but discovered a new perspective.
“I originally felt bad experimenting on cockroaches, but we learned they can regrow their limbs and have a high survival rate.”
This revelation showcases the transformative power of experiential learning, challenging preconceptions and instilling a deeper understanding of the natural world.
Another senior at Silver Creek, Nick Bigelow, highlighted the fascinating aspect of the project, stating, “It was cool to see how we could control the roaches by sending electrical signals to their neurons.” This reflects the students’ awe and excitement that accompanies the exploration of neuroscientific concepts in a tangible and interactive way.
The use of Roboroach in the classroom not only aligns with the principles of experiential learning but also emphasizes the importance of ethical considerations in scientific experimentation. By engaging in hands-on projects like this, students not only gain a deeper understanding of neuroscience but also develop a sense of responsibility in their scientific pursuits.
The Neuroscience class at the Innovation Center is at the forefront of innovative education, utilizing tools like Roboroach to bring abstract concepts to life. The combination of hands-on experimentation, ethical discussions, and the integration of advanced technology creates a rich learning environment where students can explore, question, and ultimately understand the fascinating world of neuroscience.

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Evy Deaton
Evy Deaton, Staff Writer

Evy Deaton is a senior at Silver Creek high school and first year writer for the Talon Tribune. She is taking Journalism to become apart of her community and share her writing. She is passionate about soccer, reading, and outdoor activities such as skiing. Evy is looking forward to writing exciting articles .

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