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Robinson robotics team trying to develop Vulcan Vitals

Rick Wagner • Mar 7, 2020 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — A local middle school robotics team wants to develop its research project into a machine that would measure vital heath information for the homeless.

The cost? An estimated $2,500 to $4,000. The result? Improved health monitoring and ultimately better health for the homeless.

Called Vulcan Vitals after Team Vulcan and the vitals the machine would monitor, the team presented its idea at the Kids Business Expo Feb. 28 at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.

(Spoiler alert: This has nothing do do with Mr. Spock’s vitals from the “Star Trek” television series.)

The team was part of a Feb. 8 FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League robotics competition in Cookeville, where another Robinson Middle group, Team Jiqiren, competed and earned the chance to move on to a national event.  Even though Team Vulcan did not place or advance, members still want to pursue the idea of the Vulcan Vitals machine that for now is only a cardboard prototype. 

“Jiqiren” is the Chinese world for robot, while Vulcan is the Roman god of technology.

Athrv Grewal, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Robinson, said Team Vulcan came up with an idea that could monitor the homeless’ health and help them get healthier. He said team members talked with the Salvation Army of Kingsport and Shades of Grace United Methodist Church, both which serve the homeless, and the United Way of Greater Kingsport.

“We wanted to help homeless people get better access to healthcare,” Grewal said. “We decided we would make a vitals machine that would take blood pressure, oxygen saturation, pulse and temperature. It has a thumbprint scanner for privacy and to save to a database. It also prints a color-coded receipt in case the patient can’t read. We would put that machine in a homeless shelter. We are trying to get donations. We are expecting a cost of $2,500 to $4,000 and we want to promote this idea.”

Other team members include sixth-grader Elizabeth Crow, 11; sixth-grader Hannah Bastian, 12; seventh-grader Eric Shao, 13; and eighth-grader Isaac Call, 13. Although Grewal reached out to the Kingsport Times News about the project, he said the team collaborates and really doesn’t have a president or captain. 

“We try our best to make decisions as a group,” Grewal said. 

Team coaches are seventh grade science teacher Shelby Morris; applied technology teacher and coach Jennifer Sturgill; and volunteer coach Elise Eagan, an engineer at Eastman Chemical Co. They also helped another Robinson team that is headed to a national competition for, among other things, its homeless phone app called Donor Dash that matches donors with homeless people who need donations, among other things.

Team Vulcan finished first in a regional competition but did not place in the state competition, while Team Jiqiren finished second in the regional competition and third in the state round, meaning it will move on to a national competition in Arkansas May 14-17.

For more information about the Vulcan Vitals of Team Vulcan, email [email protected] or follow @vulcanvitals on Twitter.

   

 

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