Award-winning device by Dylan measures concussion


Dylan Townsend won the premier award at the south and east Auckland Science Technology Fair. Photo supplied.

With more and more rugby players suffering from concussion, Ormiston Senior College student Dylan Townsend wanted to do something about it.

For this year’s NIWA South and East Auckland Science and Technology Fair, Dylan created a device which can detect concussions and measure the impact of collisions during the sports games.

Titled Concussion Conundrum, the scientific project which was demonstrated with a gelatine head that replicates the anatomy of a person’s head, won rave reviews from the judges who described it as a “well thought-out and executed solution”.

Of the 120 entries from schools in the region, Dylan was awarded the premier award of $1000.

That apart, he was awarded the award for best application in electronics as well as Best Year 13 Innovation, Invention or Investigation and the Premier Award for Best Exhibit of the Fair at the NIWA south and east Auckland Science and Technology prize giving held recently.

“From learning about the feelings of helplessness and confusion surrounding a concussion, I wanted to focus on providing more information to families so that they can form a better understanding of what they are going through,” says the young scientist in the making.

The device, which can be integrated into head gear, can detect if a concussion has occurred during a collision through measuring the movement of the player’s head.

“If their head moves at dangerous speed, the device will track it and inform coaches and parents that the player was involved in a big collision and may have suffered a concussion.

“Having gained knowledge of electronics through using the internet, I can measure the impact of a collision by programming an electronic component called an accelerometer.

“The accelerometer measures the acceleration of the player’s head on three different axes (x, y and z) and the numerical values measured are stored on the device.

“This data can be used by coaches and players to recognize when a concussion occurs through looking the dangerous levels of acceleration.”

Organiser of the science fair Catherine Hunter of Mission Heights Junior College said the standard of entries continues to be extremely high. “Science and technology fairs are all about getting students to think about the world around them and solve real-life problems. The students come up with new ideas and technologies that have real potential to become business enterprises.

“We congratulate all this year’s winners and believe the future of science and technology research in New Zealand is in great hands.”

Year 10 Howick College student Ethan McCormick was the runner up. Ethan discovered that the invasive Mediterranean fan worm is an effective bio-indicator of bacteria. He found the fan worm can filter enterococci and phosphates which the judges said had great potential to be used by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Ethan was awarded $500 and the Eric Claque Kiwanis Award.