A group of 10 elementary and middle school boys in Fairbanks have invented a device to get you thinking about how much water you drink every day.
They did their research this year and learned that kids — and adults — don’t always drink enough water every day for the best health. They want to help you remember to drink water every day, and they designed an original bracelet to help you do that. They named it the Hydracelet.
These boys have a special name, too. They’re called the Philosophers, which is the team name for their Lego Robotics competition. They work together through the Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA) homeschool program in Fairbanks. Lego Robotics involves building and programming robots to accomplish tasks. Each year, the First Lego League competition also comes with a research topic. This year’s topic is hydrodynamics. Each group had to come up with a water-related challenge and design a plan to tackle it. The Philosophers chose to explore ways to help people who don’t drink enough water every day.
“I was one of those kids who didn’t drink enough water, until I used the Hydracelet,” said 12-year-old Dawson Cooper, a seventh-grader on the Philosophers team.
It turns out the Hydracelet was a winning idea. The Philosophers won the Best Project award during the Fairbanks Lego Robotics regional qualifier in December, so the team and their Hydracelets will be in Anchorage this Saturday, January 20, 2018, for the statewide Lego Robotics competition at Dimond High School.
“We’re going to give them to the judges so they can see how they work,” Dawson said.
When designing the Hydracelet, Dawson talked with Fairbanks pediatrician Dr. Letha Archer to learn more about water and good health. Dr. Archer said not drinking enough water is definitely a problem she has seen in her 22 years of practice. Dehydration can lead to constipation and headaches, she said. Water also helps your body maintain a normal temperature, cushion the joints, and get rid of waste through sweating and urination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I see a lot of kids who drink the wrong kinds of drinks, so I push water,” Dr. Archer said. The wrong kinds of drinks, she said, are those with added sugar, like soda, sports drinks, and sweetened fruit drinks. These drinks can hurt teeth, and lead to weight gain and obesity, she said. Water, on the other hand, has no added sugar and no calories.
Dr. Archer said she thinks the Philosophers are working on a great research project and she was impressed by the Hydracelet. The team worked with an online company to order blue silicone bracelets in adult and youth sizes that say “Hydracelet” on the inside and have the numbers 1 through 8 printed in a large white font on the outside. Each number stands for one, 8-ounce glass of water. Then the group worked with a 3D printer in the Fairbanks area to create a square-shaped slider that wraps around the bracelet. Each time you drink an 8-ounce glass of water, you move the slider up a number. When the slider reaches 8, you know you have consumed eight glasses of water, or 64 ounces, that day.
How much water you need every day depends on a number of factors: your age, weight, overall health, physical activity level, and more. The Mayo Clinic says 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day is “easy to remember, and it’s a reasonable goal.” Some people might eed more, and some might need less. Dr. Archer said 64 ounces of water a day is a good target in general for older school-age children and adults.
Zach Burgess, a 12-year-old Philosophers team member who lives in North Pole, said he didn’t drink that much water each day before wearing the Hydracelet. He said he drank only two to three glasses of water a day, and thinks this led to a lot of headaches. He’s been wearing a Hydracelet for the past two months and said he moves the slider over to eight glasses of water most days.
“Every time I look at my wrist and it’s a low number, it reminds me to drink more water,” Zach said.
The boys started with a limited quantity of Hydracelets, only about 200. They raised funds to pay for this first batch and sell them for a few dollars each, putting the proceeds toward buying more. Dawson said they are hoping to raise enough money to buy Hydracelets that they can give away to hospitals, clinics and schools in the Fairbanks area. Dawson said he hopes handing out Hydracelets will help teach kids the importance of drinking water for good health. Zach said he hopes children around Alaska — and maybe around the country — will wear them.
You can learn more about the Philosophers and their Hydracelet project on Facebook
. The team also has an Etsy page
for the bracelet.
Photograph: Dawson Cooper, left, and Zach Burgess, right, wear their Hydracelets to help remind them to drink water.