Outreach to schools and after-school programs - we need your help!

One of the primary motivations behind creating EyeWire was to make mapping the retinal connectome into a “citizen science” project in which anybody with access to the internet could contribute to the creation of a computational model of the retina. While we really appreciate participation from anybody who’s interested in helping out (all of you!), we’re particularly interested in sharing the project with school students (K-12, though at this point the game isn’t quite ready for young kids) in order to stimulate and develop their interest in neuroscience and connectomics. However, we’re too few in number here in the lab to personally reach out to very many schools and/or after-school programs, and because of this, we’re asking for your help in our outreach efforts. 

If you know of a school or a program that would be interested in teaching about EyeWire and the connectome, please let us know the name of the school/program by posting about it on the forum, and let us know if you would be willing to contact them and get something started. Also, if you can think of a program but aren’t quite sure how to reach out, don’t hesitate to contact us and we can give you ideas as to what you could do. You would receive funding from us in order to do this (details can be worked out on a case-to-case basis). Just imagine the creative ideas the kids will add to the gallery of amusements :slight_smile: Thanks so much!

-Claire (undergrad in the lab at MIT)

Claire, it’s summertime now, but I’d love to approach my local schools on behalf of eyewire! KarenLynn

One option is going through the AP Psychology curricula and somehow getting AP Psychology teachers to try to implement it, as there is a unit called “Biological Bases of Behavior” of which covers approximately 8-10%… I am going into my Junior of High School next year, and having taken this course, and perhaps could try to get my local AP Psychology teacher to try to utilize it as some type of “extra credit” or additional homework for the course. Furthermore, I believe (I would have to double check when school starts this fall) if the teacher has access to a mailing list of all of the other AP Psychology teachers, and could suggest “Eyewire” to them…

Another idea, would involve attempting to replicate something similar to what
Udacity is doing this summer, a High School Challenge, where high school
students can get teams together and play Eyewire in attempt to get the
most points, the top teams would receive some sort of prize, with
Udacity, a trip to Stanford to drive in the Google Self-Driving Car,
something along those lines…

- Wesley

I have sent the information about this website to an educator network called Edmodo. I’ll see if there are some educator Twitter hashtags that can be used to publicize to teachers.


Thanks Sue!  Let us know what you find out.

I am currently contacting my schools AP Psychology teachers regarding having their classes participate and was wondering, if they had any more questions, who should I direct them to contact.

I have provided screen shots, mentioned the in-depth tutorial, relevant links, etc.

Hi Wetro07, I’ll message you with the email contacts.

I’m a middle school teacher, and I was talking to one of our Life Science teachers after an accreditation meeting today. I did encourage her to check it out.

I think what would be reassuring for schools and parents is if students could have their own chat environment. If we could have middle school logins, or if teachers could set up accounts for their students, and know that the students could only chat with other middle school students–or maybe even disable chat for them. 

Public schools these days are so paranoid that not even teachers can access Facebook or LinkedIn on campus in my entire state. It’s one thing if students go home and sign up for their own account. For schools to get students on a program like this where they can chat with strangers anywhere in the world is a whole new layer of safety and liability concerns and perceptions.

That's a really good point, the chat feature is something we've added recently (btw you can disable it), and we hadn't thought about what you'd mentioned.  

We did have a group of high school students working on their own cell this summer.  That was before the chat feature was implemented, but if we have another school group working together I think we should be able to make it so they can only chat with each other.

It might be helpful to prepare a brief (or not so brief) outline of what parts of K-12 curriculum the project relates to; this might make it easier to get schools involved in practice, as teachers would be able to see right away the potential areas they could integrate it into their existing curriculum and use it to teach things that it relates to.

I am a student at Santa Monica College – we have a large psychology club on campus that I am pretty sure would be interested in getting involved or at least promoting EyeWire and letting professors know about it (particularly professors teaching biological psychology). In my opinion, community colleges are a great place to target with outreach – there are lots of students that don’t yet know what they are really interested in or what they want to major in. Exposure to and participation in research is a great way of turning them on not only to science but to research as a career. They’re also a great place for outreach focusing on women, minorities, and other populations that are underrepresented in the scientific community 

I’ve sent the link to the anatomy teacher at Monett High School in Monett, MO. Email me if you have more info I can send her! astokes@monett.k12.mo.us

You mentioned you had a school working on its own cell. Is there any way to set that up for an inter school competition?

Highschools in my city are reasonably competitive and could potentially compete in completing a cell.

Im being vague for now just to get the idea out there for opinions.


-Taylor (Undergrad in the Action, Brain, and Cognition lab at Otago University :p)

@winta641  We are definitely looking forward to being able to do team competitions in the future, we’re trying to work out exactly how to do that.   Were you thinking one school would compete against each other, or perhaps classes from the same school competing against each other?

This is an unconventional direction for outreach, but someone mentioned in the chat that “they should have people in prison work on this,” which is actually not a bad idea. Not to make inmates work on it, but to offer it as a recreational activity.

Know any wardens?


I’m a staff member at the University of Maastricht, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Department of Cognitive Neuroscience. I do a lot of teaching. Two relevant courses would be the course ‘Body & Behaviour’ in the first year of the Bachelor psychology with ~350 students, another would be the course ‘Imaging the Brain/Imaging The Brain’ at the iArts Bachelor at the local university of applied science with ~12 students. Both could be seen as an introduction to biological psychology.

I would like to use eyewire in my courses. The problem is, I see few opportunities to do this in a meaningful way. I could put the background in the courses, that’s not the problem, but what could I let the students do? I get no further then ‘hand in a screenshot with at least 800 points and a screenshot where you have added a significant part of the axon’. First of all, is there a better way to see all your contributions? An account page? Other ideas? Second, any ideas on meaningful tasks? Questions that can only be answered after completion? Any other ideas?

The course for the small group starts in a few weeks, and I would like to use it as a try-out for something I might use in the large course after the summer.


www.capalbo.nl (really old page)

Hi Michael,

We are currently working on a “profile” feature which would allow players to show off their accomplishments.  We’re not yet ready to discuss what that will include, but it may help address some of the issues that you’ve raised.  Thanks for helping us reach out to a new audience!

The random cube order makes it a bit more difficult (except for tutorial cubes)… but would it be “helpful” or even “educational” to look for special features in those cubes?

  • Find and color an ordinary synapse
  • Bonus points for a real autapse (not a self-touch).
  • Mark possible vesicles. (I am sure, I saw some of those)

Special tasks: “Classify Mystic Cell #1 and #2” and “Please the GrimReaper by finding mergers” :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: Oh sorry, I totally missed the “screenshot significant part of the axon” - line. In that case my answer was not that useful :frowning: