Four Waukee CAPS Exploration of Health Sciences and Medicine Students Win STEM Challenge

Kyle Boulanger, Michael Jacobson, Anthony Nelson and Nathan Keck from the Waukee CAPS Exploration of Health Sciences and Medicine class won the STEM Challenge as part of the Iowa Wild STEM Night on April 10.

The Waukee CAPS Medical program received a $1,000 donation on behalf of the Iowa Wild and Des Moines University during the Iowa Wild game that night.

Science classes and groups from around the state developed projects that measured the critical force of a hit to a hockey helmet and presented why this knowledge is important and how it can be applied to improve hockey safety at any level. The goal was to gain and demonstrate knowledge about the long-term health effects of repeated blows to an athlete’s head/helmet in contact sports and present possible ways to reduce injuries.

“The Waukee CAPS boys displayed confidence and professionalism when pitching the new hockey helmet design developed from a combination of two existing helmets. They used creativity, critical thinking and complex communication skills to pull this idea together and win the competition,” Waukee CAPS Medical course instructor Holly Showalter said.

Boulanger, who plans on studying Biology at Grand View University in the fall, has gained a vast amount of knowledge about concussions and how to protect himself in football, as well as how to act professionally when working on a large project with a team.

The team began by examining current models of hockey helmets and researched what is being done to improve them.

“We found several flaws in the hockey helmet designs, but the football helmet designs seemed to be much more successful in preventing concussions. To design the new helmet, we combined a lot of different things from many types of helmets to produce a helmet that we truly believed would surpass all other models,” Boulanger said.

Keck plans on attending Wartburg College in the fall to major in Biology on a Pre-Dentistry track. Through this project, not only did he learn the basics of concussions, but also about safety precautions taken in sports to prevent concussions.

“For this project, we didn’t want to have a typical trifold poster with general information on it. Instead, we used a pair of drunk goggles to simulate the vision impairment that comes with a concussion. This was a useful, interactive aspect that everyone seemed to enjoy,” Keck said. The group used basic balance tests both with and without the goggles to show people the difference between the two.

The Waukee CAPS Exploration of Health Sciences and Medicine class focuses on hands-on learning. It combines co-teaching with medical professionals, value-added projects for businesses, development of professional skills, job shadowing and learning through “doing” things that employees in health sciences or medicine do in their everyday jobs.

560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701