Friday, January 25, 2013

The StreetSmart Walker

For this year’s FLL Senior Solutions competition, the NYCityzens have researched senior citizens’ issues. We found that seniors with mobility problems have a tendency to fall, so they use canes and walkers. However, we discovered that these aids could also lead to falls when the person encounters raised surfaces such as curbs.  So we decided to develop a new walker for senior citizens (or anyone else who is in need of a walker). Although NYC has converted many of the street crossing curbs to handicap ramps so that wheelchairs, power chairs, and walkers can more easily move up and down them. However, sometimes as we have observed that the handicap ramps crossings are not always flat to the street surface and the senior or person with a walker has trouble moving up the handicap ramps; the person might have to lift the walker slightly or give the walker or chair more momentum to make it past the slightly raised curb. Also, someone trying to enter a van with their walker, they actually have to lift it. Thus, we have come up with the StreetSmart Walker
          Conventional walkers have 3-4 wheels. Some may be fixed while others are swivel caster wheels. This StreetSmart Walker has three pairs of wheels for a total of six wheels, which we think gives the walker more stability. A sensor will scan the front of the walker for obstacles/curbs and will send a vibration to the handles to warn the senior. The person can move out of the way of the obstacle or press a sensory button to raise front wheels with the middle set of wheels, to a height to clear the curb, and then automatically readjust to the surface.
  The wheels that we are recommending for this walker are called Rotacaster® Multi-directional Wheels made by Rotacaster® ( ). These wheels are unique because they can easily move in any directions. According to Rotacastor® (the manufacturer), the “wheels are sturdy, impact resistant, precision-engineered, and made from fully molded polymers allowing the engineering of entirely new multi-directional movement.” Rotacaster® Multi-directional Wheels are wheels with little discs around the circumference, which are perpendicular to the rolling direction. Other walker wheels sometimes show some resistance when trying to move sideways or turn. Even the swivel caster wheels can sometimes become momentarily stuck when trying to turn, particularly for a senior who has limited upper body strength.
The StreetSmart Walker will be equipped with manual handbrakes on the back wheels, in case the senior feels the walker is moving too fast going down an incline, the walker can be slowed down or come to a stop. We are putting brakes on the back wheels of the Walker. Brakes require pressure to be applied on 2 sides of the wheel. We emailed Peter McKinnon of Rotacaster about how to put brakes on the Rotacaster Multi-directional wheels. He recommended putting brakes on the primary and secondary directions (left and right, forward and backward).
An optional GPS will also be available for seniors who are beginning to suffer from dementia. It will be simply programmed to return the senior to his/her residence.
This walker will also have a small basket under the seat, allowing seniors to carry small items. Since the basket is under the seat the walker will remain balanced.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Some Resources for Seniors

           Many resources are available to senior citizens. Older people are often homebound, or cannot work and earn money. Many private companies have programs for senior citizens, and state governments provide the most essential necessities.
         One of these programs is the Virtual Senior Center. The Virtual Senior Center is a program that helps senior citizens confined to their home get into the outside world. The program provides senior citizens with a large tablet-like device with a webcam. Some of the activities one could participate in by using the device include discussion groups, museum lectures, and music classes.
         The NYC Department for the Aging supplements seniors with money and healthcare.
Another program supplying money to seniors is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. This program gives payment to seniors older than 62.
The New York Prescription Saver Card can give discount on almost all medicines, over-the-counter and prescription. Medicare is also incredibly important. At age 65 seniors are eligible for Medicare which helps pay for medical costs.
OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) is a program that helps seniors learns about how to use computers.  This program will make seniors more comfortable using new technology. They have classes all year long in Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Their website is

By E.R.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

John Gallagher NYCityzens’ Senior Partner

                  John and Beatrice Gallagher are neighbors to two of the members of the Brics~2~Bots FLL teams, the NYCityzens and Dragonbotz: Both were born in New York City, are well educated, and have many hobbies and talents. They became our team’s senior partners.

                   John Gallagher is the main senior partner for the NYCityzens. He likes card games, puzzles, traveling and he also enjoys making friends. He worked as an accountant economist. He also agrees that a problem that he faces is homecare. If he had technology in his hands, he said that he would like for technology to mow the grass, turn the light on and off, and that the thermostat could control the temperature. He does not need an assisted walking (at this point in his life), and he would like an electric car priced reasonably for future technology.

By C.P.C.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Seniors at the Queens Herald Church

Interviews at the Queens Herald Church

         Our team, NYCityzens, visited the Queens Herald Church (QHC) in Flushing, NY to interview some  of their senior citizens. There were about 25 seniors there for their weekly fellowship meeting. We walked in expecting to find seniors with walking disabilities, but instead we found that most of them were in great physical condition even at ages up to 86. Only one person actually used a cane sometimes. We were very surprised to see so many seniors in good shape.
         Corban and Daniel both interviewed a different senior. Corban interviewed two seniors ages 79 and 86, while Daniel interviewed a senior who was 83 years old. It seems as if many of the seniors did not need any assistance in walking. We learned that some of them had hobbies/talents. Three of them were woodworking, exercising and listening to music. When we asked them about technology, a new type of technology that they would like to have is a motorized and remote controlled walker.
         Most of the seniors had a lot of friends and a big family. It seems as if the seniors are very happy when they are together since they are friends.   

By C.P.C & D.C.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Senior Solutions: Facts About Seniors

Facts about senior citizens continued...

1. According to predictions, in 2050 there will be 88.5 million seniors living in the world which would be 20% of the current population. 
2. In the U.S., there are 35.03 million seniors. Of these seniors, 18.1 million or 52% have a disability.
3. Surprisingly, 46% of family caregivers performed some kind of medical task for their  senior loved ones.
4. Out of the people from ages 70 to 80, about 30 percent of those are impaired in smell or taste. As a result, they sometimes avoid eating, eat unhealthily seasoned foods, or even eat too much. It can even lead to diabetes or high blood pressure.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

NYCityzens @ the 2012 Maker Faire

Sept. 30th., our team, the NYCityzens, was invited to the Maker Faire, an annual event that the Hall of Science hosts. Several FIRST teams (FRC, FTC, FLL) gather at the Maker Faire every year to show off their creativity and skills. At the Maker Faire there were many original and imaginative creations and inventions that were simply amazing!
Our team presented our various types of LEGO(R) NXT robots in the later part of the afternoon. We showed our audience how the robots functioned, the various types of sensors and parts used to build the robot, and what the robots were programmed to do. Our team received many impressed expressions, and the girl’s robotics team, that our coach teaches, even got a new member!
We even had an “Interactive Station”, where anybody can interact with our remote control robot and jack-in-the-box robotic device, and we even had a “Guess How Many Legos are in the Jar”, which is a game of strategy and luck.  Two lucky winners won the “Guess How Many Legos are in the Jar”, and they received mini LEGO kits! 
Our team exhibited our Bowling robot and our sister team, Dragonbotz, demonstrated the Chair mission on this year’s  field mat.. The Bowling robot had to complete the bowling mission and ended up balancing one of the Transition bridge on the field. In the Chair mission the robot had to bring part of the chair from the field back to base, and then push the completely built chair under the table on the field. Shockingly, on our very first try/presentation to the audience on how the Bowling robot worked, the robot got a STRIKE, and balanced perfectly on the bridge! People passing by our booth stopped to glance at our robots or chair robot, and they were immediately intrigued. 
Personally, the Maker Faire was a great experience for me, as well as all the other members of the team. I think that we learned to work respectfully and in an orderly fashion with each other more at the Maker Faire. We became more encouraged and determined as more and more people watched our presentation. I feel that our team is now more enthusiastic than ever to try our hardest at the real FLL competitions. Our team impressed many people, and that also motivated the team to work harder as well. Together, we all had lots and lots of fun at the Maker Faire, and had an inspirational time as well. 

by R.K. 

Senior Solutions: Facts about Seniors

Facts about senior citizens
  1. About one third of the elder population older than the age of 65 falls each year, and the risk of falls increases proportionally with age. At 80 years old, more than half of seniors fall annually
  2. There are 789,691 blind seniors in the US.
  3. In the US on Nov. 1st, 2005, there were an estimated 67,473 centenarians (seniors aged 100+.)
  4. 43 percent of working seniors work in management, professional, and related occupations.
  5. Despite needing less calories due to a slowing of metabolism, seniors need more nutrients.
  6. There are 48.3 million seniors in the world today