News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Cedar Point

Akron Children's Hospital


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Education


Runaway success for young scientists
New type of shoe from North Canton Middle School team gets provisional patent, attention from Reebok
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
North Canton Middle Schoolers Ellie Plaster, Nicole Tysa, Emily Czubaj, Sylvia Cressman, Kate Lochridge, Caitlin Zollinger are giving science a run for its money with their new shoe design
Courtesy of Heidi Cressman
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Science, technology, engineering and math... they’re called STEM for short, and educators want more students to get involved. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on a group of Northeast Ohio middle school girls who've gotten involved enough to land a provisional patent.
Runaway success for young scientists

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:45)


(Click image for larger view.)

The Big Brain Theory team has just won a challenge with its shoebox-sized Lego robot, Rodney. The six 6th- and 7th-graders from North Canton Middle School were at the First Lego League regional competition at the University of Akron over the weekend, one of two all-girl teams in the competition.

The event is designed to foster teamwork and engagement in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – through the design and construction a robot, plus one non-Lego project. Ellie Plaster explains what she’s learned in the past six months.

“You have to do some research and identify the problem that you’d like to solve. And then after that, we brainstormed. That’s another step. And you come up with a variety of ideas. And from those ideas you choose what you’d like to do. And then we made our first prototype and it showed the sliding mechanism. And then we also made an improved prototype, which is our shoe today.”

The other shoe
The shoe she’s referring to is the other part of the competition. Along with demonstrating Rodney, the Big Brain Team also had to present a second project with a focus on senior citizens. Thus was born a shoe with a slide-able top and magnetic snaps that can be put on without having to sit, squat or bend over. Right now, the prototype is made of an athletic shoe with the lace area sliced away, and the top slides on a plastic track. It’s all held together by hot glue, and Caitlin Zollinger describes the drawings the team filed for a provisional patent.

“This is the bottom view; the cap is underneath. This is the track right here. The track is what slides open and close. The magnets that snap into place. This is the shoe closed. This is the back; the heel. And it shows where the track fits in.”

Reebok calling
That got the attention of an executive at Reebok, who advised the girls last week on what to do going forward.

“He told us about molds and how it’s really expensive at first. It’s a couple thousand dollars. But as you keep making your shoe, and making more molds, they get cheaper and cheaper. And he also talked about how most manufacturing plants are in the Pacific Rim, but there is a new balance one in Massachusetts.”

That’s fine for the future of the shoe, but First Lego League is trying to cultivate the Akron-Canton region’s budding scientific talent into tomorrow’s college engineering students. Ellie Plaster and Sylvia Cressman say that participating has given them a new appreciation for the scientific process.

Plaster: “I’ve always been interested in studying architecture or interior design. But I’d also do something like biomedical science.”

KB: “Anything you learned about how to do research?”

Cressman: “How helpful it is to put stuff into graphs. We gave our grandparents this survey about our shoe. So we graphed it, positives and negatives, and grouped it.”

Engineers wanted
She sounds like exactly the kind of person Sheila King is looking for. King was a rarity - a female engineer -- at her first job 25 years ago. Today, at Rockwell Automation in Cleveland, she sees first-hand the problem of recruiting college grads.

“There’s so few engineers that they’re being sucked up by the sunnier places. The bigger companies. So we have trouble trying to keep kids in Ohio.”

King says the changing workforce could use a few of the Big Brain Team.

“The engineering field has gone more to collaboration and teamwork. Nobody works in a closet anymore. And women in particular are good in that capacity.”

From here, eight teams advance to the state finals in Dayton. The North Canton team won’t be joining them, but plans to refine the design of its shoe, make more prototypes and work on a business plan before the girls are eligible to file for a formal patent in a year.
Listener Comments:

I enjoyed reading your comprehensive report about the imaginative endeavors of these teenagers from North Canton Middle school. I think these kinds of fun projects, which encourage careers in science and engineering, should be expanded in schools. Girls, in particular should be encouraged to participate, since there are many that have the native talents to become successful in science. Am gratified to read this article and hope it will receive additional publicity. Thank you.


Posted by: elisabeth angrick (copley,ohio) on January 14, 2013 5:01AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

New book says Willoughby Coal is haunted...and that's good for business
Would love to see a series of books that would just thrill me. I cannot wait to visit some of the locations. And revisit some of the locations I have already vi...

Cleveland Indians to continue with 'dynamic pricing'
pricing is too high for a family as well as people like me who are on a fixed income. Bleacher seats are cheaper but concessions are rediculous.

Kasich talks about faith, drugs and education -- but never FitzGerald
The idea that you can learn more by talking to a 90 year old person than from a history book is just another example of how the GOP hates education and knowledg...

Third-grade charter school students fail state testing
A partisan anti-charter group came out with analysis that ODE says is based on incorrect data. So why is this a story? It doesn't seem to rise to WKSU's typic...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University