Guest post by EyeWirer @frenchkl
Charles Towne Montessori’s after school Science Adventures Club eagerly tried out Eyewire this week. Our club of six 3rd – 5th graders has been doing citizen science over the semester by monitoring a nestbox at the school, and we’ve done a few chemistry and electronics activities, so this was a shift for the group. After hearing about Eyewire on NPR’s coverage of the recent Nature paper published by Dr. Seung’s laboratory, I brought in a couple of laptops to show the students how the game works. After a brief introduction to neuronal cells and how neurons send signals to other cells across synapses, we checked out a few 3D models through the game and got started. My students enjoyed learning how to trace neurons with the tutorials and doing a little chatting with the regular players. The computer game aspect of Eyewire is quite appealing to them, and they love manipulating the cubes and 2D planes.
As a parent and informal educator, I am enthusiastic about Eyewire. As with other citizen science projects, Eyewire gives children a way to contribute to science in a real way while learning both scientific knowledge and scientific methods. In addition, it teaches them to approach a game in a more intentional way, learning to trace accurately without immediate feedback. This aspect of the game deserves attention as we move forward, and I realize that I would want to work with students over a longer period of time to help them understand how to improve accuracy (For Science!) given rather minimal feedback and learning to self-correct based on the 3D modeling. In this way, I think it is a good match for Montessori students. I’m hopeful that we can work together to develop lesson plans around Eyewire.
–Kristen French, Ph.D., Science Adventures Club leader