PLoS One. 2022 May 6;17(5):e0267834. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267834. eCollection 2022.
Although neurotechnology careers are on the rise, and neuroscience curriculums have significantly grown at the undergraduate and graduate levels, increasing neuroscience and neurotechnology exposure in high school curricula has been an ongoing challenge. This is due, in part, to difficulties in converting cutting-edge neuroscience research into hands-on activities that are accessible for high school students and affordable for high school educators. Here, we describe and characterize a low-cost, easy-to-construct device to enable students to record rapid Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) behaviors during optogenetics experiments. The device is generated from inexpensive Arduino kits and utilizes a smartphone for video capture, making it easy to adopt in a standard biology laboratory. We validate this device is capable of replicating optogenetics experiments performed with more sophisticated setups at leading universities and institutes. We incorporate the device into a high school neuroengineering summer workshop. We find student participation in the workshop significantly enhances their understanding of key neuroscience and neurotechnology concepts, demonstrating how this device can be utilized in high school settings and undergraduate research laboratories seeking low-cost alternatives.