Stu­dent shows science on world stage

Ed­mon­to­nian de­signed tool to wire­lessly monitor a pa­tient’s breath­ing and heart rate

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Lisa JOHN­SON @re­por­trix

an ed­mon­ton Grade 10 stu­dent was one of only two stu­dents from al­berta to show off his project at an in­ter­na­tional science fair in abu dhabi this past Septem­ber.

“It was a chance to show off my work, but I made so many friends. It was ex­cit­ing to meet other peo­ple with the same in­ter­ests as me,” said Jonathan afowork, who is at­tend­ing Mcnally High School.

In a project that takes in­spi­ra­tion from po­lice radar guns and the fic­tional Star trek scan­ning de­vice known as a tri­corder, 14-year-old afowork de­signed a med­i­cal tool that could wire­lessly monitor a co­matose pa­tient’s breath­ing rate and heart rate.

It all started more than a year ago when afowork’s cousin was hos­pi­tal­ized in an in­ten­sive care unit for third-de­gree burns, in­clud­ing be­ing con­nected to breath­ing and heart mon­i­tors that some­times got in the way.

“ob­vi­ously be­ing hooked up to those wires, for him, wasn’t a good ex­pe­ri­ence. So that got me think­ing: how could I make this wire­less?”

afowork’s de­vice could use the same kind of tech­nol­ogy that po­lice radar guns use by mea­sur­ing ra­dio waves that bounce back to de­ter­mine the speed of a mov­ing ve­hi­cle.

Send­ing out low-power mi­crowaves to­wards a pa­tient’s body in­side a pod much like a baby in­cu­ba­tor, med­i­cal teams could mea­sure changes in the fre­quen­cies that re­flected back to keep track of a pa­tient’s breath­ing and the beat­ing of the heart, he said.

“ev­ery time your heart beats, your skin ex­pands and con­tracts one mil­lime­tre, and ev­ery time you breathe, your skin ex­pands and con­tracts a cen­time­tre. So I re­al­ized that this data could be used,” said afowork.

or­ga­nized by a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called the In­ter­na­tional Move­ment for Leisure ac­tiv­i­ties in Science and tech­nol­ogy, the ex­pos­ciences In­ter­na­tional is a non-com­pet­i­tive event meant to en­cour­age sci­en­tific cul­ture and high­light the sci­en­tific cre­ativ­ity of about 1,200 par­tic­i­pants from 58 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

the cana­dian del­e­ga­tion was made up of 45 pre­vi­ous fi­nal­ists at the canadaw­ide Science Fair, hosted each year by youth Science canada.

afowork toured the city and even tried some tra­di­tional food that was new to him, in­clud­ing camel meat. “It was kinda like beef.”

He said he was grate­ful for ev­ery­one who helped him en­joy the op­por­tu­nity, in­clud­ing the folks at youth Science canada and his par­ents, and he cred­ited his science teacher, amanda Joblin­ski, with giv­ing kids the chance to “show off their in­ge­nu­ity.”

His ad­vice to as­pir­ing science fair-go­ers is to be orig­i­nal, do your re­search, and “you could cure can­cer with a science fair project.”

jonathan afowork

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