Monthly Archives: October 2012

CA STEM Summit

On Monday, October 15, 2012 team Robolution went to the CA STEM Summit at the Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island in San Diego.  We were the only FLL team invited to the Summit where over 150 people attended.  At the Summit we discussed dehydration in the elderly and we demonstrated our robots, “Toby” and “Rocky.”  Some special guests at the Summit were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the California schools Superintendent, Tom Torlakson.

At the Summit we visited other stations and learned about under water studies of the ocean and saw the High Tech High FIRST Robotics (FRC) team, “Holy Cows” and their robot that can shoot a basketball.  I thought the STEM summit was really cool because we got to share what we learned about dehydration and our robots to everyone that were there.  We had lots of fun and received a signed book from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar along with one of his basketball cards.

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UCSD Bio-Sensors Lab Field Trip

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012,  we went to UCSD bio-sensor lab and met Dr. Gough.  His research is about a continuous glucose monitoring bio-sensor which is implanted in the skin of a person and it measures glucose in the person’s body for a year.  This helps people because they don’t have to prick themselves every day.  Dr. Gough gave us a tour of the lab he works at and told us what every room was for.  He told us that every year,  they would attach little wires which had bio-sensors in them to seals and turtles so that he and his team could keep track of where those seals and turtles were swimming.  We interviewed Dr. Gough and asked him questions.  We learned that there are bio-sensors and we also learned that working in a science lab must be super fun from what Dr. Gough said.  Meeting Dr. Gough and visiting UCSD Bioengineering campus was a very exciting experience.

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San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA) Robotics Expo

On Saturday, October 6, two members from Robolution participated in the Student Showcase at the San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA) Robo Expo at the Cuyamaca College in El Cajon.  We demonstrated the mini programming challenges with Taskbots and the FLL “Senior Solutions” Robot Game with Toby and Rocky, our competition bots that we built, programmed and named. 

We also presented facts about dehydration in the elderly, the LEGO Mindstorms NXT sensors, what robots are, and the mathematics we used to solve programming challenges.  To test if spectators were listening to our oral presentation or if they read our posters, we played a game where they would spin a wheel and answer a question related to the number where the spinner would stop at.  If the person got the answer right, we gave a small prize.  If the person got the answer wrong, we still gave a prize for effort.

We also met other FIRST teams like the FTC teams called Robo Chicks and Shockwave.  We even sat on top of a robot giraffe! Overall, everyone was so nice to us and we had a really fun time.  We think it was such a grand public speaking experience that we would want to speak at more events.  We realized how much fun it is to promote STEM and FIRST.

SDSA Robotics Expo Flyer

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Hydration and Bio Monitors

Recently, the Robolution team investigated different hydration and bio monitors to learn how they worked and whether they could be applied to the problem of dehydration.

A dehydration pedometer is a device that predicts how much water is in your body by analyzing information such as outdoor temperature, gender and height.   The pedometer can be clipped to your clothing.  A con to this device is that it might not be too accurate, since it is only a prediction.

There is a Sweat Patch that can be used to monitor dehydration.  After applying the sweat patch to the skin and wearing it for a few hours while exercising, the patch is then sent to a lab to determine whether you were dehydrated.  While this is an interesting idea, having to wait 24 hours for results is a disadvantage.

We read about a hydration management system that uses a multi-step process to measure water levels in the body.  First, the person spits into a small tube.  Next, the tube is inserted into a small hole in the circuit board.  After that, the circuit board is placed into a machine that contains an absorbent material.  Once the material absorbs the saliva and expands, it triggers a micro- lever.  Finally, the results are sent to a screen for the person to read.  While the quick read-out is an advantage, this process is complicated in that there are many parts to keep track of, and the person may not have a lot of saliva to continuously spit into the tubes.

Scientists are also working on a sweat sodium – sensitive sensor.  The sensor is attached directly to the skin and uses an ionic dye that changes color in the presence of sodium.   Used primarily for athletes, information is sent wirelessly to a coach to indicate the sodium content of the sweat and therefore the athlete’s hydration level.

Two applications currently being developed to measure glucose levels in diabetic patients may be applicable to measuring hydration.  Instead of the traditional finger-prick method, transdermal patches can be worn on the skin to measure potassium and glucose levels.  The information can be sent wirelessly to a smartphone.  The advantages of these transdermal patches are that they are painless, inexpensive and provide continuous monitoring.

The Robolution team even learned about a sensor that can be used on cows.  A micro-thin chip can be attached to a tooth to measure bacteria levels in saliva samples.  Currently only a prototype, in the future this may give a new meaning to “wisdom teeth”!

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