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May 2007 Issue

Students from Schroder Junior High compete in the NEEMO 12 robotics competition at UC.
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Students Test Robotic Skills at Center for Surgical Innovation

By Amanda Harper
Published May 2007

Local junior high students got a hands-on demonstration of just how cool science can be as part of a robotics competition hosted by UC’s Center for Surgical Innovation.

The competition is being conducted in conjunction with the 12th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO) to get kids excited about careers in science and medicine.

UC surgeon Timothy Broderick, MD, is part of the 12-day undersea mission aimed at improving medical care for future space travelers.

For the robotics competition, teams of five students from local schools—including Schroder Junior High (pictured above)—rotated through four robotic surgery stations designed to test their hand-eye coordination and finesse at manipulating laparoscopic tools.

Students attempted to move rings from one peg to another —first using just laparoscopic graspers, then graspers with one eye closed, followed by hand-controlled robotic arms and eventually the da Vinci robotic surgical system commonly used for clinical care.

Winners of the competition will get to “drive” a surgical robot—called the RAVEN—that NEEMO 12 scientists are testing in the Aquarius habitat—at a community educational program May 9 at Cincinnati Museum Center.

Local schoolchildren will talk directly to Broderick and the NASA team about how doctors will eventually treat sick or injured astronauts when they are millions of miles away from the hospital. They will also hear what it’s like to live and work undersea and have an opportunity to ask questions during a virtual tour of the scientists’ tiny living space.

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