January 29, 2017

January has been an exciting and busy time for us! We were able to meet Temple Grandin one of our heroes! She was at a lecture sponsored by the North Carolina State University Student Chapter of American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. We were invited, sat right up front, and were able to talk with her too because she wanted to meet us and the North Carolina State University Veterinary School supports us too! Back to Temple and why she is our hero: Temple Grandin loves cows like we do and looks for ways to improve their care. She spoke about her journey and how she became a successful scientist and inventor even though she has Autism. Temple spoke about how “different minds” are needed to help in science. We loved this because in our Catalyst InvenTeam we all have “different minds”. Some people call them disabilities but we like the term “different minds” better because we have many abilities and gifts. We like Temple want to be leaders and inventors in STEM!

Temple Grandin spoke of several things we have learned so far, through the invention process which are needed to succeed. The first, hard work, we have been working hard, 8 hours on each Saturday on our invention. The next one, learning from failures, we think we have learned much from our designs and failures to make make a successful invention. Perseverance, which we have learned because sometimes our design is not working, we have not given up and we are accomplishing our goal. She also spoke about finding good mentors to learn skills. We are very lucky because we have graduate students and professors at North Carolina State University who are willing to volunteer and teach us skills and topics we need to make our invention. They believe in us and support us which goes a long way during the invention process! Also, just like Temple, we think because of our “different minds” we are great out of the box thinkers which really helps in this invention process. Temple Grandin said many kinds of minds are needed for success in STEM. Now a funny story to tell you about Temple Grandin from one of our Team Members, and it goes like this: “Temple Grandin was signing books, and I wanted to know if that was the real Temple Grandin, and not some impostor. So, when I was next in line, I asked her, “Are you the real Temple Grandin?” and She said “The One and Only.” Temple Grandin also has a great sense of humor. It’s on par with my sense of humor.There were so many times that Temple Grandin made me either smile, giggle, or laugh aloud.” A good sensor of humor is needed when inventing too!

This month we learned many things. Our Graduate Student Mentors taught us about strain gauges, which is a sensor placed on a thin piece of metal called bridges. There are different variation of the bridges such as the quarter bridges, half bridges, and full bridges. Starting from the quarter bridges up to the full bridges, the level of sensitivity increase due to more sensors being placed on a piece of steel. The sensor are placed in a Wheatstone Bridge Circuits in order to detect small changes in resistance from stress. There are different variations of stress that can be affect the strain gauges. Strain gauges are sensors whose force is measured by resistance. We learned that there were three configurations in strain gauges: quarter, half, and full-bridge. Active elements have to be present in order for strain gauges to run successfully. Strain gauges are able to pick up expansion and contraction; external and internal forces are the most common factors to these Axial strain is a strain that deals with pulling from the sides while bending strain is a force that is being applied to one end of the strain gauge and it either goes down or up depending on your perspective. We are hoping that strain gauges will be able to  detect pressure changes and since a cow will be standing on top of it will be a bending strain due to them shifting their weight around. If their leg is lame, they will put less on weight on which means less pressure will be detected by the strain gauge. An activity that we did at last week's meeting relating to this was that every one of us had to demonstrate the features of a strain gauge and what it does to measure force. We feel as a team we need to work together so everyone learns and invents all facets of the invention, not just one person.

In addition to strain gauges, we learned about welding, fastening metals, and the ways some metals can be used with the cow mat. Fasteners join metals by nuts and bolts while welding joins metals into one object without nuts and bolts. During the meeting, we decided that the prototype would use steel on the outside of the tubing and aluminum on the inside of the tubing, while the final product may combine metals. We decided that the mat in full will probably weigh 284.4 lbs with the metals.We also have been taught how to use the arduino,learn how to program it and how we could use this to measure the strain put on the strain gauge. Also we learned the process of soldering. Next time we are will put various components together to build our prototype and start on the coding for the App and learning some Java.

We also started working on our pamphlet for our Open House on February 25th from 1-3 PM. You are all welcome to our Open House: http://evite.me/aRJRVRXAEp. We are brainstroming other fundraising ideas to help us get to MIT in June!  We  had an article published about us,  in the News and Observer Newspaper:http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/thumbs-up/article126739419.html Please see our Facebook Page: Catalyst InvenTeam for weekly pictures as we continue our inventors journey! https://www.facebook.com/catalystncows/