"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.


Walk At School Event At Red Bank Elementary Friday

Red Bank Elementary students have been participating in walk to school day events.   On Friday, the 5th graders are doing a surprise "flash mob" dance on the last song at 2 p.m.  (click for more)

Tennessee Releases 2014 State Report Card

The 2014 state Report Card­­­­, posted  Thursday  on the Tennessee Department of Education website, offers users the ability to view detailed breakdowns of last year’s student achievement growth and other important data points. The 2014 Report Card features a variety of tabs including growth or value-added data, accountability, and education climate. A College and ... (click for more)

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen As Soon As Next Thursday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District  plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as next Thursday. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today. Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate. Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)