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Young Alaskan scientist win big with invention of hydracelets

FAIRBANKS — It’s been a big month for The Philosophers.

This group of young elementary and middle-school scientists just took home the top prize at this weekend’s FIRST LEGO League Open Championship. A big part of that win was something they invented called the hydracelet.

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The hydracelet is a blue silicone wristband with the numbers 1 through 8 displayed in white. A square-shaped slider can be moved from number to number every time the wearer drinks an 8-ounce glass of water. When the slider reaches 8, the wearer knows eight glasses of water — or 64 ounces — have been consumed. It’s now easy to keep track.

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“That project was a huge part of it (the win),” said Danielle Burgess, mother of two of the competitors. “LEGO robotics is the title of the competition, but the majority of the team scores are made up from their project.”

A research project is part of every competition, she said.

Students on the team that created the braclets, under the theme “Hydrodynamics”, are from the Interior Distance Education of Alaska homeschool program. 

First, they brainstormed creating an app, but that idea just didn’t work. Then, they started thinking about ways to help kids remember to drink water every day.

After all, they told me, there are all kinds of ways adults can remember to drink water every day — computer apps, smart watches, expensive water bottles. But most of those require a costly tablet or smartphone. They wanted to target kids but really hope adults will use their invention too.

“This is cheap, fun and easy to use,” said 12-year-old Alex Burgess, holding up a hydracelet.

After the team pinpointed the idea, they got to work and did their research. They talked to experts — their own family doctors.

“I found out water is really important for you,” said Alex.

Kids and adults just don’t drink enough of it, added his brother Zach.

The team created a poster about their project and highlighted these facts: “Water is very important to our bodies. Half our body is made up of water and we must have water to live and function properly. However, up to 75 percent of kids in the USA are not drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated.”

 Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, muscle and joint pain, dizziness, nausea, fainting, moodiness, fatigue, constipation, dry skin and lack of concentration.

The team merged the prefix meaning water “hydro” and bracelet to come up with the name of their invention, said to sixth-grader Levi Mowery, one of the team members.

The team made 200 hydracelets and sold out. The person who made the sliders with a 3-D printer cannot handle the quantity they need moving forward. Luckily, someone in Anchorage, who is excited about the project, has offered to fill that role with his 3-D printer.

 “He had cancer himself and talked about how frustrating it was keeping hydrated,” said Danielle Burgess. “He just thought their project was awesome.”

“We want to try to get to the point where we have sold enough that we can buy a really big batch and give them to hospitals and schools for free,” said Dawson Cooper, a seventh-grade student on the team. “We’re not in it to make money. We’re in it to help other people.”

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The Philosophers are Dawson Cooper, Myles Cooper, Zach Burgess, Alex Burgess, Joe Benson, Jonny Redman, Jorden Zesiger, Curtis Beck, Lucan Nussbaumer and Levi Mowrey.

Learn more about the hydracelets on the Facebook page Hydracelets-Team Philosopher. Users are invited to share photos and stories about their own use of the hydracelet.

The team also has an Etsy shop at http://etsy.me/2nTzpY6. The hydracelets cost $3 apiece.

By the way, the team has been invited to an international competition in Arkansas in May. Watch for the team’s fundraising.

Source: News Miner

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