Light Up Football. Samuel is a 7th grader who is a regular at the Boys and Girls Club. He joined the maker club as a 6th grader but missed quite a bit of time due to other school and family activities. When he joined in earnest in the spring of 6th grade, he immediately became excited about inventing something that would be good for his community. He decided on a “light up football” so “kids if kids play outside in the dark they can play catch or something can see where the ball moves so they won’t get hit. Like in the face. Or, or they can see where it lands.” He was worried that many of their yard and streets are too dark for playing football due to lack of decent lighting on the city streets: “We have street lights but they don’t work.”
Samuel plays football “like everyday” with his friends, so another concern was how to keep the lights powered in a way that was friendly to the environment and the energy bill. He decided to use LED lights and rechargeable batteries with a solar power docking station. In describing his invention he says,
“This is my solar battery charger. It charges my batteries. So I put the batteries in it and put it under the sun so it charges the batteries. . .”It saves energy and money so you won’t have to, like, keep buying and buying batteries. It also makes the world greener, so like, when you throw, throw batteries away you can like, and those critters can get inside your trash, like the racoons, can like, take your batteries, take your trash and batteries out. So to, like, leave it, like the batteries everywhere, so they can eat it and stuff. So I didn’t want that to happen so I made it so it could be rechargeable batteries so it could, the batteries can just be used on and on again.”
You can see the video that Samuel made of his Light Up Football HERE.
Phantom Jacket. Samuel continued participation in his 7th grade year. This time, he immediately decided on a project with 2 friends after surveying his community on the safety issues that mattered to them. As he described below, the Phantom Jacket is a fashionable jacket meant to keep people safe from bullies and attackers. In his project description, he writes,
“The phantom jacket is a jacket to keep people safe. We thought this was an important safety issue for a lot of reasons. If you are walking alone in an alley, or if you are walking to some friend’s house or your aunt’s house late at night, or just walking in the street late at night, you might need some protection. If someone tries to rob you, you press the button and it sets off an alarm. Some people might want to use it to protect themselves from police, even though that is really wrong!
How It Works: Tech Specs
There is a lot going on here. First, the jacket uses wind energy to power it. The wind energy is from the wind turbines on the shoulders. The wind turbine, when it spins, it sends energy into the battery where it gets stored. Then that energy can be used to power to the alarm to make it work. So the wind turbines connect to the batteries, and the batteries connect to the alarm, and that makes our circuit complete. The alarm has a button on it so you can turn it on and off.
Also, the wind turbines are on the shoulders because it will be the best airflow there. Also, if you put it on your stomach or back (the other places we thought about) it might fall off and also you wouldn’t get much air, and maybe get hurt. We also think the turbines on the shoulders are very “cool” looking. We measured how far away you could hear the alarm. It was from the front door of Pleasant to the very front of the boys and girls club. That is 451 feet!
We did not want the jacket plain so we went for a design on the front. It looks like a phantom, like ghost. You might not have noticed but the alarm button blends into the jacket. So people wont really know that you might have an alarm. I bet you couldn’t see it either that is how well it blends.
Who will buy it? People who would buy this might be people who live in places where there is a lot of crime or bad stuff, such as in Baltimore.”
Stephan commented on his engineering design work,
“I really had worked hard and I got my video done. I’m not trying to brag, but I did. I was really proud cause it just made me feel good about myself so I could, like, kinda, acknowledge people what I could do.”
Here is our movie!