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Lambton science fair bucks trend, continuing to grow

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Troy Shantz

Kiran and Kendra Prasad’s entry in last year’s Lambton County Science Fair strong-armed the competition — but in a good way.

The robotic arm brace they built took the brother and sister team from St. Patrick’s High School all the way to the Canada-Wide Science Fair in New Brunswick.

Fashioned from an electric motor and metal rods, the brace enables users to perform a range of functions, from buttering bread to pushing a shopping cart, said Kiran Prasad.

The pair presented two versions of the device at the Lambton County Science Fair, held at Lambton College, with a friend offering working demonstrations.

It has application for anyone with a disability, multiple sclerosis or stroke, said the Grade 10 student.

“Anything where you don’t really have functionality of one arm,” he said.

While many Ontario schools are dropping out of the science fair scene, Lambton’s has continued to grow in size and participation over the past decade.

The solo entry Kiran Prasad is currently preparing is a closely guarded secret, but it will be on display when the 47th annual fair runs April 3-4 in Lambton College’s new double gymnasium.

Categories are open to students in Grades 3 to 12 with participants competing for more than $5,000 in prizes. The intermediate and senior winners have an opportunity to attend the Canada-Wide fair, this year held May 9-15 in Edmonton.

Prasad’s goal is to compete at the Canadian finals for a third straight year. His submissions have come a long way since his first entry as a third grader, he added.

Last year’s robo-elbow was inspired by the family friend, who sustained an arm injury in a cycling accident. Kiran and Kendra created two prototypes – a lightweight version for summer and a heavier, heated one for winter.

“That’s really important, to ensure that everyone can live their lives without their injuries or disabilities affecting them as much as they should,” said Prasad.

“Using technology to help make people’s lives better is really a field that I’m interested in.”

For more on the science fair, and how to enter by the March 30 deadline, visit www.lambtoncountysciencefair.ca.

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