Greg Gage helps kids investigate the neuroscience in their own backyards.

Why you should listen

As half of Backyard Brains, neuroscientist and engineer Greg Gage builds the SpikerBox -- a small rig that helps kids understand the electrical impulses that control the nervous system. He's passionate about helping students understand (viscerally) how our brains and our neurons work, because, as he said onstage at TED2012, we still know very little about how the brain works -- and we need to start inspiring kids early to want to know more.

Before becoming a neuroscientist, Gage worked as an electrical engineer making touchscreens. As he told the Huffington Post: "Scientific equipment in general is pretty expensive, but it's silly because before [getting my PhD in neuroscience] I was an electrical engineer, and you could see that you could make it yourself. So we started as a way to have fun, to show off to our colleagues, but we were also going into classrooms around that time and we thought, wouldn't it be cool if you could bring these gadgets with us so the stuff we were doing in advanced Ph.D. programs in neuroscience, you could also do in fifth grade?" His latest pieces of gear: the Roboroach, a cockroach fitted with an electric backpack that makes it turn on command, and BYB SmartScope, a smartphone-powered microscope.

What others say

“I find it interesting that [his] teaching method garnered so many comments; I could almost hear older commentators thinking 'I would have done so much better in my science classes if....'” — Laura B. commenting on Greg's TED-Ed talk on TED.com

Greg Gage’s TED talk

Greg Gage on the TED Blog

Live from TEDGlobal 2013

Introducing the RoboRoach: Greg Gage at TEDGlobal 2013

June 12, 2013

Talking as fast and fervently as a circus busker, TED Fellow Greg Gage introduces the world to RoboRoach — a kit that allows you create a cockroach cyborg and control its movements via an iPhone app and “the world’s first commercially available cyborg in the history of mankind.” “I’m a neuroscientist,” says Gage, “and that […]

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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

Listening to Nature: The speakers in Session 5 at TEDGlobal 2013

June 12, 2013

This session asks us to pay closer attention to what nature has to tell us — both about itself and about the world around us. We’ll investigate a variety of sources — from the soundscapes of ecosystems to the neurons of cockroaches to the extraordinary sex lives of animals. Here are the speakers who appeared […]

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Science

TED Fellow Greg Gage turns a smartphone into a microscope

February 24, 2013

At TED2012, DIY neuroscientist and TED Senior Fellow Greg Gage shocked the TED audience when he cut the leg off a live cockroach onstage to demonstrate his Spiker Box – a device that allows anyone to see and hear spikes in the neural activity of insects. A year later, his company Backyard Brains is coming up with […]

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