A team of Central Ohio 9th-grade students is headed to Washington D.C. to compete as regional finalists in a national science, technology, engineering and math competition.
The eCYBERMISSION competition is sponsored by the U.S. Army and the National Science Teachers Association.
The Columbus Academy students hope their invention -- a glove that reduces hand tremors -- defeats the competition, including a team from China.
It's a simple design meant to solve a complex disorder, and the students cooked up the idea after learning that a classmate lives with essential hand tremors.
"We found out it's a big problem in our community. We went to the Veterans hospital, and we found that two-thirds of veterans had essential tremors as a result of post traumatic stress disorder," said Savannah Cofer, a 9th-grade student.
Dr. Ranjana Sinha, a neurologist at the Chalmers P. Wyle VA Medical Center advised the group on the project.
"Tremors is something that we see. It's involuntary muscle movement that mostly involves the hand, but it might involve other parts of the body," Dr. Sinha said.
It has taken six months of research to get their final submission to the eCYBERMISSION competition.
The gloves are just four of the prototypes the students developed, including one built with elastic bands.
"What we did was we had an anchor at the elbow … and it has elastic bands that run along the fingers and that would use an elastic force to counteract the hand tremors," said Meredith Schroeder, a 9th-grade student.
The group finally settled on an inexpensive golf glove with thin metal wiring lining the fingers.
How did they test the effectiveness of the creation? They used an app called iSeismometer.
"It's used to measure earthquakes, but it can actually work with hand movements as well. So what we do is if you press play and move your hand and that way we can measure the amplitude and frequency of essential hand tremors," said Varun Vallabhaneni, a 9th-grade student.
The team hopes to bring home the grant prize of $8,000 in U.S. savings bonds.
There has been discussion of applying for a patent and mass production of the gloves.
"We really want this design to make it. We want to take it farther," said Vallabhaneni.
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