Projects from two Kihei students showcased at STEM conference

Leif Torgerson, a senior at Kihei Charter School, created a robotic hand that was showcased at the Hawaii STEM Conference on Oahu earlier this month.
Jesse Arias sits on his bicycle generator. This invention was showcased at the Hawaii STEM Conference held May 1 and 2 on Oahu.

A robotic hand and a bicycle generator, created by seniors at Kihei Charter School, were showcased at the Hawaii STEM Conference at the Hawaii Convention Center on Oahu on May 1 and 2.

Senior Leif Torgerson created a robotic hand designed to mimic the movements of a controlling hand. A more complicated version takes readings from potentiometers, maps the level of resistance to an angle of movement, averages multiple angles of movement to filter out noise and moves each joint of the hand, he explained.

His future models, which he’s hoping to get funded, would switch from potentiometers, which are essentially high-sensitivity dimmer switches, to flex sensors. This would allow Torgerson to have the hand be controlled directly rather than turning a knob to change the angle of movement.

From there, he would like to add an arm and expand it to involve more of the body.

Fellow senior Jesse Arias made a bicycle generator with a monitor and a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, single-board computers developed to promote the teaching of basic computer science, connected. When the two batteries run out, the bicycle is pedaled to generate power, creating “free electricity,” he said.

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