Could thermal imaging help reduce bullying at schools?

Could a voice activated dialysis machine increase adherence to at-home treatments?

Could a “smart vest” help police officers who have been shot receive medical attention faster?

These are just a few of the solutions presented by high school students at the Illinois Science and Technology Institute’s R&D STEM Challenge on Thursday. Illinois corporations present industry challenges to local students, who show off their solutions at the annual showcase. It’s a way to introduce Illinois’ next generation STEM students to the challenges they’ll face in STEM industries such as pharmaceuticals, IoT, and renewable energy.

This year ten industry and academic organizations, including Microsoft, AbbVie, and Motorola offered challenges to 19 Illinois schools including Evanston Township High School, Lake View High School, and Muchin College Prep. To date, ISTI’s R&D STEM Learning Exchanges (which include a mentor matching engine, a STEM research repository, and the STEM challenges) have impacted more than 2,000 local students.

Here’s a look at how Illinois students rose to meet the STEM challenges:

Takeda Pharmaceuticals asked students to find ways to increase medication adherence. Students from Oak Park and River Forest High School suggested an active listening worksheet that would ensure patients knew how their medication worked. Students from Evanston Township High School created a framework called “C.H.A.N.C.E.” that empowered patients to take control of their own health, and feel comfortable interacting with pharmacists and physicians when needed. Students from Main South High School pitched Toki Tree, an app that provides recipes, exercise ideas, and a prescription pick up calendar (among other features) for Type 2 diabetes patients.

The Youii Project
Youii by CVCA

Motorola Solutions asked students to use tech to help make their communities feel safe. Chicago Vocational Career Academy presented Youii, a wristband and mini-computer (set inside a teddy bear) for children with asthma, which can track children’s breathing patterns and send notifications to parents and emergency services if breaths-per-minute cross a dangerous threshold.

Baxter International asked students to explore home healthcare technologies. Lindblom Math and Science Academy suggested adding copper coating to in-home peritoneal dialysis machines to reduce risk of a potential infection (bacteria can’t live on copper unlike other materials). Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy pitched the Vigil app, which has instructions on home dialysis procedures, as well as diet tips, reminders to check blood sugar, and a health journal. Muchin College Prep suggested adding voice recognition to AMIA dialysis machines to help address technical problems

Microsoft asked students to use IoT to create a better community. Students at Lake View High School (pictured above) recommended “Bully Buster,” a platform that uses thermal imaging technology to measure emotions in students, and send alerts to administrators to intervene if a student is exhibiting abnormal negative emotions, such as anger or depression.

Illinois State University Center for Renewable Energy asked students to innovate on the smart grid and smart meters. Students at Washington Community High School created Click Strips Smart Power, an app and outlet plugin that can help homes manage daily energy usage. Downers Grove North High School retooled Tesla’s open source home battery technology to save users’ money and reduce energy consumption. Downers Grove South High School pitched Zip Band, a wearable device that captures kinetic energy to give smart phones a quick, on-the-go charge. Williamsfield High School outlined a plan to update the lighting system in their STEM lab using motion sensors and a smart lighting app.

Motorola Mobility asked students to use tech to solve problem in their community. Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center showed off a “smart vest” that would send an alert if an officer is shot on the line of duty, allowing officers to be more confident when approaching potentially dangerous suspects. Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep showed off an arm band that could charge a phone using a thermo-electric generator that creates power when a user is active.

Argonne National Lab asked students to help increase teen awareness of cybersecurity and privacy. Evanston Township High School recommended an interactive experience that would show students what they give up when they don’t read the Terms of Service, and a Chromebook “takeover” that would show students the information that can be extracted from their devices if not properly protected.

New Trier High School's hovercraft presentation
New Trier High School’s hovercraft presentation

TGG, a behavioral science and economics firm, asked students to use “nudges” to solve a problem in their community. ITW David Speer Academy used labels to nudge people to conserve water when showering. Wheeling High School created a campaign to encourage students to clean up trash at lunch called “Dunk Ya Junk,” including a PSA showed on their morning announcements and a basketball backboard added to trash cans to incentivize throwing away trash.

Northrop Grumman Corporation asked students to design a hovercraft with a self-protection measure. Oak Park and River Forest High School created an all-terrain hovercraft that has infrared sensors for threat detection, and infrared lasers that can eliminate incoming projectiles. New Trier High School created a half-dome hovercraft that is exceptionally agile and can maneuver quickly. Palatine High School pitched a military defense system that depends on a “system of systems” that can alert the hovercraft that a threat is on the way to more efficiently prepare a counterattack.

AbbVie Foundation asked students to address an issue in their community. North Chicago Community High School suggested putting a community health clinic in their high school to provide on-site physical exams, reproductive care, and mental health services, and decreases absenteeism of students.

Note: the article was updated to reflect that the event is run out of ISTC’s 501(c)(3) affiliate Illinois Science and Technology Institute.