Boothbay Region High School students Lilly Harris and Blake Erhard are heading to Brunswick for the 73rd annual Maine State Science Fair on Saturday, March 23. Harris and Erhard’s submission to the fair is a unique design for a vaccine needle apparatus.
“It's a shot cap to cover the needle when kids are getting their vaccinations,” said Harris. “Whoever is giving the shot would put this on before they get into the exam room. The needle sits inside.”
The cap flips up, blocking the view of the needle as the medical professional administers the shot and the cap flips back down when the process is complete. Erhard drew the design – in this case, a cap in the shape of a Superman "S" – on a computer-aided design (CAD) program and the pair printed out the attachment with the school's 3D printer.
The idea came from Erhard's fear of needles and Harris could not determine if his ability to complete the design in less than a day stemmed from his exceptional CAD skills or this deep seated fear.
“When we came up with the project idea, it kind of just made sense,” Harris said. “We have some ideas for future applications to make the design like a stamp so you get like a Superman stamp when you get your shot.”
Gifted and Talented teacher Emily Higgins went to a teacher training session over the summer designed to encourage students to participate in science fairs.
“Many schools have some pretty big programs and we tossed it around a little bit, but this year Lilly and Blake were interested so they let us give it a shot,” Higgins said.
The students began planning for the fair and drafting the idea in October and after a long form-filling process, they were approved in February. The attachment has a couple kinks the students will iron out in a second printing before the fair, but Harris said they are pretty much ready as they finish designing their project’s poster which will be printed at Bigelow Labs.
The fair's prizes and awards will include 12 four-year, full-tuition scholarships to The University of Maine in Orono and scholarships from University of New England, College of the Atlantic, and Husson University.