Team Access to Microfluidics has been spending some time in the natural world getting to know the awesome power of microfluidics — the unique qualities that fluids take on when they go through super tiny channels. Now they want to bring this knowledge and experience to students through a kit that makes it easy and affordable to teach and understand these qualities.
Read on to find out why this team from George Fox University is so inspired by this area of science, who they turn to for motivation, and how a leaf's skeleton is involved in the invention.
1. What is your invention?
Our invention is a kit that teaches students the unique qualities of fluids when they go through channels 1mm or less in diameter. These unique qualities are what allows the natural world to function as it does such as water flowing 100ft in a tree or our lungs capable of taking a breath.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for your invention idea?
Our inspiration came from our academic advisor at George Fox who encouraged to delve into the world of microfluidics.
3. As you prepare to pitch your invention to judges, what are you most excited about sharing?
We are the most excited to share the importance of this science to the judges in order to share our passion with students in the future. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible when working at such a small scale and are hoping to encourage the growth of this science by starting the learning process at a young age.
4. Who are your invention heroes?
Some people we looked to was Dr. Moses Noh at Drexel University who helped give us insight into the importance of Microfludics. As well as a team at MIT who first came up with the idea of using Legos to create Microfludic channels and inspired us to look into different ways to create channels.
5. Tell us about your team. How did you connect with one another and how do you work together?
Our team came together through a program called Servant Engineering run by our school. We were assigned to work with Dr. Kang to come up with a project to help the community around us. Our team members are John Micah Vinkemulder, David Bacher, Brandon Ikehara, and Megan Dyer. John Micah's main focus was to develop and perfect a new way to create microfluidic channels within vinyl. David's focus was to use 3D printed designs to cast in PDMS to create microfluidic channels. Brandon's main focus was to create a magnification device. Megan's main focus was to use nature to recreate microfluidic channels by dissolving leaves down to the skeleton.
6. What is the most important thing you want the judges to understand about your invention — what will set you apart from the competition?
Our goal with this invention is to make an affordable way to teach a new form of science to students everywhere. With that in mind, we want to continue to explore ways of creating microfluidic devices in the least expensive and most efficient way possible. Our passion and goals are to make an impact in students' lives and make it possible to have good lab equipment no matter the school's budget.