On February 7th, the Shapiro Design Lab and the University of Michigan Prosthetics Club participated in the Emerson School Science Fair. Emerson School is a private K-8 institution with a dedicated staff and over 150 students. The theme for the science fair was "Problem Solvers: Using the Design Thinking Process to Find Solutions for Everyday Problems." Of the 150 students, the majority of them participated in the Fair. Projects ranged from 3rd grade mechanical card dealers, to a student in the 8th grade that created an AI that mapped cities for disaster relief. The Science Fair stretched from the school gym, through the halls, and into the large auditorium. The large auditorium is where the Shapiro Design Lab found itself tabling.
Program Assistants Packy and Kelly, two members of the Prosthetics Club, Stefanie and David, volunteered to bring projects to the Fair. Packy brought 3D prints from our accessibility project of tactile navigation maps, tactile universe, and topographical maps. The students found the 3D printed maps super interesting, while the parents tended to be more interested in the process of transforming astronomical and geospatial data into Gcode. Kelly brought the aerial mapping kit from the community and citizen science projects. Parents tended to find the process fascinating and were very interested in the applications of the kit. If the Lab decided to participate next year, we will bring the community microscope for the students to play with. The members of the Prosthetics Club brought a robotic arm with sensors that connected to a human arm. The students and parents were blown away by the robotic arm that could grab objects when a human flexed their biceps. After the event, the Design Lab was invited back for next year’s Science Fair.