Every year, eighth-grade science teacher Michele Chamberlain challenges her students to find a solution to a real-world problem. The solution must be environmentally friendly, and must demonstrate their sense of global awareness.
One of Michele’s students, 14-year-old Amelia Day, knew she wanted to create something that would help her practice her favourite sport, and approached Chamberlain with an idea for a football-related project.
“I know you said to choose a project you love,” Amelia explained, “I love soccer and I want to do something with engineering. I know I want to compete.”
Originally, the tool was built to help budding football players practise how to kick a ball correctly. The ball, tethered to a parasol shaft, uses a Raspberry Pi, LEDs, Bluetooth, and pressure points; together, these help athletes to connect with the ball with the right degree of force, at the appropriate spot.
However, after a conversation with her teacher, it became apparent that Amelia’s ball could be used for so much more. As a result, the project was gradually redirected towards working with stroke therapy patients.
“It uses the aspect of a soccer training tool and that interface makes it fun, but it also uses Bluetooth audio feedback to rebuild the neural pathways inside the brain, and this is what is needed to recover from a stroke,” explains Amelia.
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