A simulator for helping students learn neuroscience concepts.

The Client

Researchers at the University of Alberta were looking for a better way to help students learn neuroscience concepts. They decided on a modern, simple, and visually appealing simulator as the ideal teaching method for undergraduates.

The Problem

Creating a tool that allowed students to manipulate experiment parameters, see animations of what was happening, and view the graphical output of results. They also wanted it to use open-source technologies and to be accessible on phones, tablets, and laptops.

The Solution

The responsively-designed simulator computes mathematical calculations on-the-fly for seven scenarios. Once students set up their experiment, they see an animation. The results are graphed as the simulation progresses.

Dynamic Simulation

The seven scenarios within the neuron’s membrane are shown using mathematical modelling (calculations are used to explain and predict behaviour). The calculations are handled server-side using python.


The animations have been optimized to work on both mobile and desktop devices. Additionally, they can be paused and resumed while the simulation is playing out the experiment setup by the student.

Data Visualizations

The graphs are updated live as the experiment progresses on screen. This means you can actually see the results plotted as the animations progress! Live graphs provide students with a comprehensive view of the experiment.

Experiment Summary

Students can choose to print the results of their experiment. The results are laid out in a stylized PDF where they can see both their experiment settings and finished graphs on one page, which is often used as an assignment submission.

"The Atmist team worked tirelessly and professionally to produce a fantastic first version of the simulator that we have used in our Fall term classes starting mid to late September 2013...Student reviews and feedback has been very positive…"

— Declan, Neuroscience Professor

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