ExploraVision '10: Uni team earns regional title, qualifies for finals of international contest
Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 - 3:44pm
URBANA — A Uni team of juniors Eric Chen, Zach Korol-Gold, Chris Mathy, and sophomore Dax Earl has won a regional championship in the 2010 ExploraVision international science competition for their project, NIBEye: Neural Interfaced Bionic Eye.
The competition, now in its 18th year, asks K-12 students in teams of two to four to take a current technology and imagine improvements and applications for it 20 years in the future. Students are divided into four grade categories. Uni’s regional winning team, advised by biology teacher David Stone, is in the 10-12 category.
There are two rounds of the competition, regional and national. During the regional round, six teams out of the thousands that entered are chosen as regional winners for each age division.
Winners are selected based on an 11-page paper they submit, detailing the present technology they are addressing and how they are improving on it. Uni competed in a region that encompassed Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and all of Canada.
Uni’s regional-winning project is a prosthetic eye that can restore vision to those affected by blindness, integrating several flexible, biocompatible alloys and lenses to create a natural-feeling, high-resolution artificial eye.
Next up for the regional winners is the final judging round, in which two teams in each grade category will be chosen as overall winner and runner-up.
Members of the first-place teams will each receive a $10,000 EE savings bond, while those on the second-place teams each receive a $5,000 bond.
For the final round, teams will create a Web site that introduces their technology as well as the background on the project and its future impacts. The site must also incorporate a video that illustrates the technology.
This is not the first time that Uni has done well at this competition. Three Uni teams have placed first overall, and one has earned second, giving Uni the best record out of any school in this competition.
Last year, a team of Isaac Chambers ('09), Tej Chajed ('10), Daniel Cheng ('10), Danny Ge ('10) won for their project called HEARTt: sHDL Enabled Atheroma Reverse Transport Technology, which called for using synthesized proteins in the fight against heart disease.
When the final winners are announced on April 30, Uni may have yet another team win first prize.