This past weekend, several students of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s took part in the SPARK! Hackathon, sponsored by Mozilla and Saint Anne’s-Belifield School in Charlottesville. The event brought students from the region together for two days of “learning and making.” BRVGS student Abena Appiah-Ofori, a sophomore at Orange County High School, described the events of the weekend:
“On the first day professionals from different fields presented problems to us and we were given the option to choose which problem group we wanted to be in. I chose the biomedical engineering group.
Our group's mentor was a professor at UVA's Department of Biomedical Engineering. He gave us a scenario where we had a 72 year old patient with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In addition to having MS, our patient was also blind, had limited feeling in his fingers, and took a total of 16 medications daily four times throughout the day. Our patient lived alone and had a caretaker come in for four hours to help around the house every day. Our job was to come up with an idea to make our patient less reliant on his caretaker and more indepent. To empathize with the patient, we blindfolded ourselves / closed our eyes while we went to dinner. We noticed that we felt helpless and found that simple things like eating were very hard. Because of this, we wanted to make our mechanism as simple as possible for our blind patient.
There were around 8 people in my group and we ended up splitting into a manual section and a programming section. The manual side created prototypes that would take the place of the caretaker to dispense pills one at a time. We used cardboard, tape, and coffee cups to create a The dispenser prototypes. The programming section made an arduino equipped with a sonar device that checks to make sure there was at least a week’s worth of pills in the container. Once there was less than a week of pills, the Arduino would emit a beeping sound (shown by light because of lack of beeper) for about five seconds to inform the user that that particular pill is low. Once we were finished we made a poster of our idea and presented it to people around the community at an open house at the end of the hackathon.
Overall, the SPARK hackathon felt like a BRVGS semester project put into two days without the 10-15 page paper. We were given a scenario(topic), put into groups, came up with a possible a solution, and in the end we presented our idea with our groups. The hackathon was very fun and I would recommend anybody interested to apply next year.”
We are very proud of all of our students who gave their time and effort to take part in this event!