I Did That with My Brain! High School Students Explore Physiological Computing

Summer NeuroCamp students

Chris Crawford, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, University of Alabama • September 3, 2019

Advances in Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are enabling the exploration of novel input techniques. Innovations in this area have resulted in technologies such as neuroprosthetics and brain-controlled wheelchairs. However, there is a lack of research investigating the design of technological tools that prepare the future workforce for this emerging technology. Furthermore, there have been limited investigations of how K-12 technological tools featuring BCI technology support the acquisition of computational thinking skills. Our project, Exploring Physiological Computing Education in the Alabama Black Belt, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Research on Learning, began addressing this gap by holding Neuro Summer Camp 2019.

Neuro Summer Camp 2019

The project recruited 11th and 12th graders from the historic Alabama Black Belt (ABB) region, which consists of a high enrollment of African American students. Sixteen ABB students were invited to a Neuro Summer Camp at the University of Alabama. During the summer camp students learned basic concepts related to capturing and processing brain data (e.g., mounting EEG device, filtering EEG data, creating neurofeedback games). They also participated in activities that involved the design of neurofeedback applications using the developed educational tool.

Preliminary Findings

Preliminary analysis determined that students’ BCI self-efficacy significantly improved after being exposed to our tool. The project team is currently in the process of analyzing artifact-based interviews to determine patterns of computational practice and computational perspectives that emerged during NeuroCamp.

Research goals

My work focuses on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). As a researcher and instructor my goal is to leverage novel neurophysiological sensing technologies, software engineering, and robotics to create tools and applications that support the exploration of Brain-Robot Interaction (BRI). The objective of our current project is to develop a tool for K-12 BCI education and to explore how that tool influences students’ acquisition of computational thinking skills. Long-term, the project intends to advance knowledge at the intersection of physiological computing and Computer Science education.

To learn more about my research and its applications, visit the University of Alabama’s Human-Technology Interaction Lab.

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