Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Life-Saving Search & Rescue: The Journey to Mission Success

Pt. 4 of 4 – Mission Success

Welcome back!

eCYBERMISSION prepares for the arrival of the 2017 national finalist and STEM-In-Action Grant teams, participating in the National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE), we reflect on the work of prior winning teams that inspire us all.

It’s hard to believe that two-years ago team SPOT-R (Seeking People Over Terrain-Remotely), was headed to D.C. to experience NJ&EE and accept eCYBERMISSION’s 2nd annual STEM-In-Action Grant. One thing other teams can learn from SPOT-R is that each revision and prototype transformation leads the team towards creating a device that has a positive impact on their community.  SPOT-R’s device is a quad-copter designed to help search and rescue operations in the Appalachian Mountains.

“We have had variations on design and mechanisms over the months. We have met up with aerospace and design engineers to get feedback on the design for our multirotor and its components. Some of the components we have actually created ourselves. With testing and research, we have assembled a viable prototype."

Even though there have been technical changes to the device itself, the overall project has remained true to their original vision and has proven exceptionally successful in its mission of educating the public about search and rescue. Community leaders are pleased with how well SPOT-R is becoming an important part of the community.

The team met weekly in a central location near their County Courthouse—strategic location for community members to see drone device progress.

“Since we still have people at events who say, ‘drones are scary, the team, and SPOT-R, still have our work cut out for us.”

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Life-Saving Search & Rescue: The Journey to Mission Success

Pt. 3 of 4 – A Connected Community

Welcome back!

Since the start of team SPOT-R’s Journey and Discovery, the students worked with local schools throughout the 2015-2016 school year to craft educational materials, including researching and developing the activity booklets used to highlight SPOT-R’s educational outreach.

Summer of 2016 was SPOT-R’s opportunity to effectively engage the community with planned activities they scheduled at the annual Fourth of July Festival and Back-to-School Bash. Also during this time, the student team created a web page called  and a Facebook page for the Appalachian Science Experiment and  SPOT-R program

We have designed elements such as coloring sheets, mazes, and crossword puzzles,” said SPOT-R. “We have strengthened ourelationshipwith schools and other educational venues.”
Since team SPOT-R’s first showcasing of their drone display, at eCYBERMISSION’s 2015 National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE), it’s become their most effective outreach program in the community. The NJ&EE showcase helped SPOT-R build more confidence in public speaking. 

During the well-attended annual Back-to-School Bash in Avery County, the team demonstrated the drone device’s full potential. The team also generated buzz around a popular kids game they designed called, ‘Pin the Hiker on SPOT-R.’ Children were blindfolded and attempted to stick the hiker on the dog's picture. All participants received an activity booklet, and "winners" got to pick a prizepencil, stamper, or other goody with the SPOT-R paw-print.

Community Events

The Appalachian Science Experiment out of North Carolina has developed the teams’ relationship with the Crossnore Volunteer Fire Department, now primary community sponsor for SPOT-R. In addition, other local rescue organizations have taken interest and started creating recruitment tools—brochure re-design— to be used with SPOT-R. Four new members have joined the Appalachian Science Experiment, and others have expressed interest in joining, so the program continues to be well supported.

Through a number of community events, SPOT-R has worked to expand education outreach efforts. As mentioned in Pt. 1 – Journey, the team first revealed the SPOT-R drone device at their local YMCA’s Chapman Center as part of the North Carolina Science Fair on April 21, 2016. 

As part of the North Carolina Science Festival, the team was invited to a reception at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh. One individual at the reception, in particular, was very impressed with the team’s work and extended an invitation to participate in the Burlington Mini-Maker Faire. The Mini-Maker Faire is a community event connecting people with ALL-thing science; Features hundreds of all-STEM exhibitors and exhibits.

“We met other builders and innovators, including multi-rotor enthusiasts, who were excited about the technology for search and rescue,” said team SPOT-R. “This event also allowed us to build great relationships."

STAY TUNED for Pt. 4 of 4 – Mission Success!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Life-Saving Search & Rescue: The Journey to Mission Success

  Pt. 2 of 4 – Discovery

      Welcome back!

As SPOT-R developed their device using the eCYBERMISSION STEM-In-Action Grant, they discovered and implemented technical changes that would soon demonstrate an even greater potential for mission success.

Thus far, the team successfully sourced, purchased, and installed all of the systems and parts to make the drone device operational.
Like any project, team SPOT-R has gone through a number of transformations, each one helping to improve its mission. Let’s see what they discovered along the way!

 Ø  Original Discovery   
Originally, SPOT-R’s project 
called for a completely custom design, a raspberry pi as the controller, and only an infrared camera. After somresearch, they discovered that it may be better to use a pre-manufactured multi-rotor. However, we soon discovered that something like a DJphantom would nohave enough battery life for this innovation.

Ø New Discovery
       It was at this time that team SPOT-R discovered that it would be better if there were six props instead of four, as originally planned. Having six helps add more stability and redundancy in case a motor ailed during flight.

Ø  Current Discovery
     Team SPOT-R discovered recently that the original design allows weight shift with the batterYleading to problems in flight tests. Construction of a protective shroud is currently underway, which will protect the instruments and help maintain the device’s center of gravity!

 Throughout their mission, SPOT-R has been able to strengthen relationships and connect with the community. See how SPOT-R has successfully connected with the community in Pt. 3!
 STAY TUNED for Pt. 3 of 4 – A Connected Community!