Students Build Robots to Help With Osteoarthritis

Students Build Robots to Help With Osteoarthritis

Robots? Legos? Jeopardy? How do any of them relate to arthritis?

The FIRST Lego League team, a Kingston, Massachusetts-based student group consisting of Thomas North, Autumn and Logan Brown, Justin Conner and Jackson O’Brien, builds robots out of Legos to participate in competitions. In their most recent competition, the Massachusetts State Championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute last December, they utilized their robot models to educate the public on osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an annual competition that not only recognizes students for their robotics work, but also strives to have those students impact the world around them. The theme of last year’s competition highlighted problems affecting senior citizens and what students could do to help.

The Kingston team went out into their community and gathered information from seniors suffering from osteoarthritis, specifically. Afterward, they concocted a jeopardy game from all of their collected facts and wrote a script that they went on to perform at the competition. The skit acted as a method of entertainment and instruction as the team members displayed the capabilities of their robots.

Osteoarthritis Lego Robot!

The robots participated in several missions that illustrated ways in which senior citizens suffering from osteoarthritis could keep themselves active, independent and productive. The team collected points along the way as each mission was met using different robot models. Thomas North praised how easy it was to relate the game to the audience, saying that, “all the models are based off a problem that a senior has.”

Additionally the team earned the Champion’s Award runner-up title at the qualifying tournament at North Quincy High School. And because of their awareness work, they also gained a sponsor for their upcoming projects in the Boston Post of the Society of American Military Engineers.

Though they did not take home the state title, they will advance next fall to the next level of robotics, which is the FIRST Tech Challenge. All the team members had an exceptional time sharing their work at the competition with both the audience and their competitors alike.

Osteoarthritis Jeopardy
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“I was just surprised and amazed at how little stem cells are being used to treat arthritis and other conditions right now,” said Justin Conner, who played the part of the charismatic announcer during the Jeopardy! segment of the competition. “Stem cell treatment can be really effective in helping people, so I hope it is used much more in the future.”

“The 2012 Challenge was a great opportunity for us as a team to learn about arthritis. This autoimmune disease and inflammation of the joints greatly affects the lives of both people I do not know and those who are close to me,” Autumn Brown chimed in, who portrayed one of the Jeopardy contestants.

The Kingston FIRST Lego league team is eager for the next wave of competitions and has already started working on new models. They are also keeping busy by perfecting the ones they already built so that when the next competition arrives, they’ll have an onslaught of robots to educate, inspire, and spread the news on arthritis awareness.

Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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