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Puck shooter, glucose tester among projects created by local students

Whether on the street or on ice, three local hockey players can now sharpen their skills one by one with their new invention, the Perfect Passer.

The Bemidji Middle School eighth-graders demonstrated their puck shooter during the finale of this spring's Inventors of the Future Program. The finale was held Thursday at Bemidji State University.

"The Perfect Passer shoots regular hockey pucks and it also shoots most inline pucks," Bo Borowski explained while presenting the project with fellow inventors Brandon Carlson and Zach Rickers.

On Thursday, 33 students from BMS and Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School showcased the inventions they developed through the Inventors of the Future Program. The theme of the program is "Improving the Quality of Life for the Future."

The program is designed to promote the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, said project manager Su Kim, who is pursuing a doctorate in materials science and engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

The Center for Educational Outreach at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering is the primary sponsor of the program. Johns Hopkins partnered with the Teaching Relevant, Inquiry-Based Environmental Science project to bring the program to the two area schools.

"This is the second year we've done this project," said Dwight Gourneau, project director for TRIBES.

He said the program was coordinated locally by James Owens, science educator at the Headwaters Science Center.

Students at the two schools worked with teachers and mentors, including local engineers and BSU students, for the past two months to brainstorm ideas for inventions, design the inventions and, for some students, build the inventions.

Powered by a 400-torque motor, the Perfect Passer, for example, navigates pucks housed in a tube into the path of half of a horseshoe that readies the pucks to be shot out of an opening. The tube houses 25 pucks at one time.

"When you are all alone, the Perfect Passer comes in handy," Rickers said.

Several other BMS students presented their inventions, including sixth-graders Cheyenne Woods, Kayla Sundvall and Tasha Schlichting.

"Do you ever have the problem where you lose your remote and you can't find it?" Woods started the group's presentation. "If you do, we have the product for you."

She said the concept of the group's invention, the TKC Remote Tracker, is similar to a cordless telephone pager. A person could press a button on a television and the missing remote control would beep.

From Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School, senior Lloyde Dahl and juniors Darnell Johnson and Danny Armstrong presented the design for their invention, the Diabetes Saliva Analyzer.

They explained the device would test glucose levels using saliva, rather than a blood sample pricked from a finger.

"We just thought it would be more sanitary than using blood," Dahl said. "(Also) you don't have to hurt yourself."

The device would consist of a container with a testing strip and a computerized chip that would read the saliva sample.

Meanwhile, eighth-graders Dylan Lightfeather, William Robinson and Rebecca Tibbets from Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School introduced their Ultimate Arthritis Glove invention.

Lightfeather explained that the invention combines a heated glove and a liner that applies pressure to the hands.

"It will relieve your sharpest pains and cramps," he said.