STARTing Off May With a Bang
There is nothing more motivating than seeing the value in your work and regaining sight of the bigger picture. At the start of this month, as we were beginning to feel the pressure, our team received some really inspiring feedback when we presented HANDL at the STatewide Autism Resources and Training (START) Leadership Conference to over 200 educators and professionals involved in special education. START is the program that created Peer to Peer, the group at our school that led to our initial idea for Project HANDL, so speaking at the START Conference felt very much like coming full circle in our process. An especially memorable moment for us was following our presentation when, during a question and answer session, an educator asked everyone in the room to raise their hands if HANDL could be helpful to students they worked with. Looking over a crowd of raised hands was unbelievably validating for our vision and the work we have put into our project; knowing that what we are doing could really help someone makes it all worthwhile.
The very next day the team participated in our Got Milk photoshoot, which was a way fun experience. Dressed in our InvenTeam polos, khakis and stick on milk mustaches we posed with HANDL and a set of lockers. As part of the initiative to use more than just athletes as role models on Got Milk posters in schools, our InvenTeam and HANDL will be featured on a poster in every school in the state of Michigan. This experience was also pretty validating, and awesome publicity for the WHS InvenTeam.
In our last full month before EurekaFest, our engineers have been working tirelessly to make sure HANDL is at its best when we travel to Boston. A major development was receiving our aluminum case fabricated by Bekum America and then successfully 3D printing the mount that will hold the parts of the device in the case. Months of planning have gone into the placement of the components and it is very exciting to start to be able to materialize these plans. John, Garrett, and Robert have also been solving the mystery of the accelerometer using their calculus skills. The three explored the arc tangents of the coordinates of the components of gravity to figure out how to use the force of gravity to position the HANDL device. Eventually they figured it out and the accelerometer was added into the program and successfully put to use in our device.
We are also currently working with a Michigan State University graduate student who is helping us create a pattern recognition software in the hopes of using our camera technology in the device. Additionally, one of our final hurdles is our spring and magnet system. The dial grasp will be sunk into our device with magnets on the face of the device to attach to the locker. Then, springs inside the device will provide the right amount of force of the dial grasp against the locker dial, making HANDL more user-friendly and reducing the precision required to operate the device.
As we count down until EurekaFest (T-14 days until departure!) most of our spending has gone toward improving our final project to present in Boston. We have been working hard on everything we need for EurekaFest, from figuring out shipping to pictures to practicing our presentation. Even though we reached our fundraising goal of $12,000 we are continuing in our efforts, including a car wash at the Admiral gas station in Williamston on June 3rd. We have been getting increasingly excited as we purchase tickets to our Boston sightseeing activities, like the Red Sox Game, Escape the Room, and Codzilla with the money we have raised. Before we go, Sarah has also been working on writing a problem description outlining the problem we are solving and how each part of HANDL works for the patent attorney we are continuing to meet with. After many months of hard work, we are unbelievably excited to showcase what we have done at EurekaFest in a couple of weeks. It’s crunch time, but as always, this InvenTeam can HANDL the pressure.
Thanks for reading!