The nation’s premier young brainiacs were honored today at the annual White House Science Fair. Every spring, the White House invites children to show off life-changing innovations that have mostly been constructed in McGyver-like fashion from commercially available materials. Even though I cover this story every year, it’s hard not to be inspired by brilliant young kids motivated to tackle the world’s problems. “Let me just say in my official capacity as president, this stuff is really cool,” said President Obama.
We’ve rounded up three awesome and inspiring projects below:
1. A 3D-Printed, Mind-Controlled Prosthetic – 17-year-old Easton LaChappelle has created a mind-controlled prosthetic arm for the low price of $250, thanks to parts cheaply replicated from a 3D printer. In the Vine below, you can see the young lad using a commercial-grade, brain-wave-reading device, the Neurosky, to shake the robotic arm. LaChappelle explained to me that the prosthesis is controlled through a sophisticated system of blinks and thoughts. The Neurosky can measure different levels of concentration, as well as eye blinks. Two eye blinks, for instance, prime the arm for contraction, and the level of concentration controls the degree of contraction. The software is smart enough to learn a user’s daily patterns and make certain movements easier at specific times, such as eating lunch around noon.