"RoboRoaches" Invade McCallie

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Students in Dr. Elizabeth Forrester’s AP Biology class at McCallie created a homegrown batch of the world’s first commercially available cyborg roaches, or “Robo Roaches,” as a way to better understand neural microstimulation.

After a week of neuroscience lectures, students put their knowledge to task as they were asked to perform surgery on cockroaches, implanting electrodes into the insect’s antennae that could then control the roaches’ movements via a smartphone app. 

Throughout the year, students learned that even though organisms appear very different at the cellular level, they share other similarities. The human nervous system is much more complex than that of a cockroach, but the structure and function of an individual’s neurons is very similar, allowing students to learn about the human brain via “Robo Roaches,” said officials.

The boys would first anesthetize the roaches in ice water. Then, through an 90-minute-long surgical procedure, they would cut a portion of the antennae and implant electrodes which would touch the insect’s nerves. After the roaches recovered overnight from surgery, the boys would then attach a Bluetooth backpack called a SpikerBox which would receive information from a smartphone app. This allowed the boys to send electrical impulses to the antennae, which in turn directed the movement of the roaches. 

Some of the experiments were more successful than others, which was also a part of the learning experience, according to Dr. Forrester.

She noted that “by testing the early prototypes, the boys are helping to generate data that will ultimately improve the technology.” Having tested the early cyborg prototypes, the boys helped to generate data that will improve the system so that it can be used practically for rescue in natural disasters. For example, she said, the roaches could eventually be equipped with cameras and sent into rubble in hopes of locating victims.


State Releases 2014 District-Level TCAP Results

The Tennessee Department of Education on Wednesday released district-level results from the 2014 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, which show strong gains in high school, and relatively constant scores in elementary and middle school. As seen in state results, districts did well in high school in most subject areas. Statewide, growth in 3-8 reading dropped slightly ... (click for more)

Women Entrepreneur Symposium To Be Held Tuesday

The WE women entrepreneur symposium (formerly named Women At The Top Symposium or W.A.T.T.S) will be held on Tuesday, August 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Stratton Hall. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, Honorary WE Chairperson, invites all women entrepreneurs to a symposium featuring Sloane Scott, a.k.a. the “Digital Diva” of FLO Thinkery, as the keynote speaker, ... (click for more)

County Commission Chairmanship Up For Grabs After Exit Of Henry, Skillern

The chairmanship of the County Commission is up for grabs after the exit of two commissioners who have held the post in recent years. Larry Henry is moving on to serve as Circuit Court clerk. Fred Skillern was upset by Randy Fairbanks in the Republican primary. Most of the returning commissioners have their eye on the possibility of taking over as chairman, or at least getting ... (click for more)

PAST Act On Horse Abuse Stalls Out In U.S. House Despite 70% Support

Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, issued the following statement today regarding the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518:   “I regret to inform you that Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses  to bring the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to the floor for a vote.  His decision ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mark’s 50th Anniversary Toast

In the new book that celebrates the first 50 years of baseball’s Southern League, its splendid author Mark McCarter recalls that very early in his career as a sports writer, he was riding with his boss somewhere and mentioned that if the legendary Allan Morris ever needed help covering the Chattanooga Lookouts that he’d love to help. Today, as he looks back, he ruefully adds, “I ... (click for more)