A solution to help those suffering from hand tremors is taking three Columbus Academy freshmen to a national competition in Washington, D.C., June 17-21 after being named a regional winner in the 11th annual eCybermission competition.
Sponsored by the U.S. Army, one of several science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives offered by the Army Educational Outreach Program and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the online collaborative learning competition is designed to cultivate student interest in STEM by encouraging students in grades 6-9 to develop solutions to real-world challenges in their local communities.
The Columbus Academy team was selected as one of four regional finalist teams at the ninth-grade level. The team, called Trouble with Tremors, comprises Savannah Cofer, Meredith Schroeder and Varun Vallabhaneni and team adviser Haruna Cofer.
The team found that hand tremors are affecting a growing number of people of all ages, including 66 percent of military veterans.
They discovered existing solutions are only partially effective and have significant risks.
Their project solves the problem of hand tremors by creating a device that reduces the amplitude of tremors so that people with the symptoms could perform common tasks, like eating and drinking.
They used science and engineering to design three prototype anti-tremor gloves that use rubber bands or stiff wires running along each finger to provide an opposite force to tremors.
The team tested the prototypes on patients with mild, moderate and severe tremors.
By measuring the tremor amplitude using the accelerometer on an iPod Touch and calculating the percentage reduction in amplitude, they found that their designs effectively reduced tremors by up to 65 percent.
Furthermore, in a practical test, they found that their anti-tremor glove reduced the amount of water spilled from a cup by more than 80 percent. The Trouble with Tremors group believes its solution is a simple but effective approach to reducing hand tremors.
It is the team's hope that it could help improve the quality of life for senior citizens, military veterans and many others in the community who must cope with the debilitating effects of hand tremors.
"I hope this opportunity to take our invention to the national level will help us make it available to those who are suffering from essential hand tremors," Savannah Cofer said.
Schroeder said she's really excited to meet all of the finalists who are attending the competition.
"I can't wait to learn all about their inventions," she said.
Vallabhaneni said hand tremors affect two-thirds of veterans at the VA Hospital in Columbus.
"Being able to design an effective glove for them has been especially rewarding," he said.
As a regional finalist team, each team member received a $2,000 U.S. Series EE savings bond and an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Judging and Educational Event in Washington, D.C.
The regional winning teams were chosen from a select group of 64 finalists and narrowed by a rigorous judging process.
A panel of virtual judges comprising U.S. Army scientists and engineers from the Research Development and Engineering Command and other Army organizations, STEM, scientists and engineers selected this year's regional winners on the basis of several criteria, including a virtual presentation of their project and a question-and-answer session.
Sixteen regional teams will present their projects to a panel of judges, and a national winner from each grade level will be selected.
"We are very excited for the regional winners for their outstanding work to solve problems in real-life situations," said Dale Ormond, director, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. "We look forward to bringing more awards to every state and continue to serve as an online resource for educators who are looking for new and engaging ways to teach STEM in their classrooms."
This year's event, which combines educational and team-building activities, features a STEM Tech Expo, where students will participate in demonstrations and hands-on activities and go on field trips to the National Mall and museums. The event will conclude with a special awards ceremony with U.S. Army leadership, and the national winning team from each grade will be announced.
Since the program's inception in 2002, eCybermission has awarded state, regional and national competition winners with more than $8 million in U.S. savings bonds and more than 100,000 students participated worldwide.
For more information about the eCybermission competition, go online to ecybermission.com or call 1-866-GO-CYBER.