Local Students Honored for Invention to Help with Autism

Posted at: 03/20/2013 9:37 PM
Updated at: 03/20/2013 10:18 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Monday we learned there's a new invention that could help people living with autism. Listen to this, it was created by two 5th graders from Jefferson Elementary. They recently took home top honors for it in a regional competition.

Hermanth Aasirvatham and Joy Jasik got the honor in front of all their peers, for a project they created to help those with autism. "There's 77 million people in the world that are autistic," said Aasirvatham.

"We know a lot of people with that same disorder so we thought, why not help them?" said Jasik.

"I thought it was a perfect fit. It gave me goose bumps because we are a home-site for autism," said their coach Vandie King.

It's called "Smart Feet." How does it work? Well first it uses stem cells called astrocytes found in the blood. “You draw blood and you filter out these and catch them. Then you can modify them using different procedures like gene delivery vehicles or RNA re-sequencing," said Aasirvatham. You can see why they won.

The "Smart Feet" name comes from a computer that's put in a shoe. "This can tell it to go toward these chemicals and lead it up to the brain, " said Aasirvatham, and from there, "that can cross the blood brain barrier, so once it does in the brain, it can become a neuron now," he said.

Those neurons can communicate with other neurons in the brain. All that information goes back to the shoe, it organizes that information, and sends it back into the brain.

That's a quick look at how it works. Though they still have a few more steps left in order to win the competition overall. "We have to make a prototype of the technology we invented" said Jasik.

You’re probably thinking, this is pretty complicated for 5th graders, but their coach says they've proved they can do this. "I think that they are doing a great job. Sometimes the saying is, the skies the limit, but for them it’ the universe," said King.

"It feels really great. I just feel like it’s such a tremendous honor," said Jasik.

The students won the regional division for their work in a science and technology competition. They received a laptop computer for the school and video cameras for each of them. They’re now working on a website for their invention and are in the running for a trip to Washington DC and a $10,000 prize.