We all have questions. Here are answers to some common questions we receive. Send us an email if yours isn't on our list.
Backyard Brains is a small company that makes neuroscience educational equipment and experiments for students of all ages.
We are Neuroscientists, Engineers, and Educators. You can find more detailed info about who works at Backyard Brains in our About Us page.
We started out of and are mainly based in Ann Arbor, MI. We also have operations in Santiago, Chile a traer neurociencia para todos. We have educators working out of San Diego, CA, and Seattle WA.
You can return unopened products for up to 90 days for a full refund. If you did open it, and still want to return it. That is OK, so long as it is still in working order. We do charge a 15% restocking fee. We also cannot refund consumables, such as electrodes or gel.
We incorporated in March of 2009 and shipped our first product (a SpikerBox to the graduate program at UC-San Diego) in April of 2010.
Yes! We have an ethical statement regarding our insect experiments at: http://ethics.backyardbrains.com
Payment and Shipping
We accept all major credit cards via our website. If you call us, we can take your credit card over the phone. We also accept purchase orders.
We typically package and ship all products within 1-3 business days (90% are shipped the same day). Domestic (U.S.) shipping transit time is then 1-4 days depending on distance from Michigan. We offer variable shipping options for international customers, with shipping transit times ranging from 1-5 weeks depending on the option you choose.
By our lovely and hard working production team in Ann Arbor, MI.
Products and Services
Please check out our "product help page and user forum" --> Coming Soon!
The Muscle SpikerBox has circuit protection on all inputs and outputs and has true differential amplification to isolate the noisy muscle electrical signal through the skin. The electrodes are also designed for use with humans. The gain and filter settings (1000x, 300-1200 Hz) are the same.
Everything ships with batteries save for our DIY kits.
Experiments and Lesson Plans
Scroll down to the bottom of the experiments page and you will find a FAQ specific to the experiment.
For Students and Parents
All products are powered with 9V batteries and are electrically safe. We use small map pins for our electrodes.
Our neuron recording experiments use non-poisonous insects that do not bite or sting. Or human muscle recording experiments are non-invasive (simple patch electrodes) and are safe.
With adult supervision, >~10 years of age is appropriate. Without adult supervision, appropriate age range is >~13.
Several of our customers are science fair students. You can even read about and look at some of their experiments in our "Customer Page" (Coming Soon!). We like to work closely and mentor many of our science fair students. Most of the time, high school teachers are approached by students interested in doing some sort of neuroscience related project and in turn contact us for help.
We love customers contacting us with discoveries they have made using our equipment. You can use our Contact Form and describe to us what you have discovered. Please feel free to attach any pictures, videos and data. We will get back to you as soon as possible with questions, comments and celebratory congratulations, who knows we may even ask for your help in creating our next featured Backyard Brains Experiments!
We are working on online teacher training resources and online video training. We are also attempting to hold a national 2 day training seminar. Soon to be released on our website is a product help page that has an extensive video and picture library going over potential problems you may encounter with our products and experiments and how to solve them. As with any biological experiment problems arise and we want to be there for you as much as possible.
See our product pages for bulk discount orders.
We get invited to classrooms and Neuroscience outreach events frequently, and we wish we could attend each and every one. Unfortunately, we are but a small team, and as we've grown it has become increasingly more challenging to attend small events. Ultimately, we do the work we do so you do not need a Ph.D. neuroscientist to introduce students or the public to neuroscience! In the past, we've charged honorariums, but now we encourage you to instead invest that money in a powerful, live demonstration like the Human-Human-Interface, to study the phenomena (the TED talk is a great introduction), and to present it yourself! Together, we are citizen neuroscience: Viva la Neuro-Revolution!
Currently we offer teacher and student versions of all experiments and we have more in depth experimental resources to offer teachers. In the works is a formalized teacher and student lab manual for all of our experiments. This lab manual will closely adhere to National STEM educational standards so that teachers can seamlessly incorporate neuroscience into their curriculum. You can use our Contact Form if you would like to inquire about these positions.
Employment and Collaboration
As scientists ourselves, we hold a firm belief in collaboration. Our Muscle SpikerBox was born out of a close collaboration with Dr. Tracy, a muscle physiologist from Colorado State University. We are actively looking to collaborate on an optogenetic project (we have the equipment but not the genetic organism). If you are interesting in collaborating with us please contact us we would love to hear from you.
Currently we are looking for teachers that have a passion for neuroscience and are good at making lesson plans.
We love collaborating with our customers. If you are an educator or teacher that has an idea for a new lesson plan, experiment, or has developed one then we would love to hear from you. We also are looking to reach out with museums and work on neuroscience based exhibits where the user can really interact with the exhibit.
Yes! We love working with artists. Some examples include Emily Verla Bovina of RKLog and FieldWork Marfa, Brittany Ransom of TwitterRoach, and Guy-Ben Ary with some custom culture dishes (more info coming soon).