By Hamdy Inusah
On Sunday, April 10th, Duke Global Women’s Health Technologies hosted its inaugural Ignite Duke Day.
Ignite, a program run by both GWHT and the Museum of Life and Science, takes a human-centered design approach to helping students address local and global challenges in their communities and utilize several skills related to science, technology, engineering, and math to tackle those challenges. During this eight week program, students worked both virtually and in-person with Undergraduate Trainers from both Duke and Emory to research a problem within their community and design a prototype and an eventual finished product to help solve these issues.
During this event, 22 middle schoolers, called Learners, presented their final projects, a culmination of their hard work over the past eight weeks to judges and their peers. The issues these middle school students tackled were split into three categories: Light, Water, and Health.
Within the Light team, the Learners addressed a variety of issues, including the creation of waterproof flashlights for use during power outages and adjustable flashlights for everyday use. The Health team covered the creation of pulse oximeters to help measure oxygen levels and heart rates for a wide audience, from kids to adults, and the Water team had a wide variety of devices and methods for water filtration and pollution detection.
During their poster presentations, Learners spoke about the issue they set out to solve, their process in which they designed and tested their prototype, and the eventual journey they took to get to their final product while taking into account both aesthetics and utility. The Learners also looked ahead, and considered what next steps they would like to take for their designs.
Following the project exhibition, attendees and participants migrated to the auditorium where lunch was served and the program director, Dr. Megan Madonna spoke a little bit about the goals and the purpose of Ignite to the kids and their families. Afterwards, she turned the floor over to 5 Ignite high schoolers, called Makers, for their final presentations. The Ignite Maker program is Ignite’s open-ended problem solving program where high schoolers work with undergraduate mentors for a full academic year. Makers choose a UN Sustainable Development Goal and undergo the human-centered design process to create an unique design for a problem of their choosing. The Makers each delivered 10 to 20 minute presentations of their projects surrounding community issues. The issues these projects faced were more diverse than the Light, Water, and Health categories given to the Learners, with some Makers tackling issues such as mental health, cancer research, and greywater recycling. These presentations were more advanced than those made by the Learners, but still covered similar topics such as prototype design, testing, challenges faced during research, and next steps, all while framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The event concluded with a tour of the Duke University campus, led by the undergraduate trainers.