Thinking Outside the Box – a Revolutionary Robotic Wheelchair

A 16 year old student from Hobart, Yaya Lu, has amazed some of the most advanced medical thinkers in the world with her concept of a robotic wheelchair, designed to respond to speech commands. Although this is not a new idea, the concept that really sets her wheelchair apart is its ability to respond to non-language-specific voice sounds – a combination of  the long and short sounds dah and dit – a concept which will give some independence back to complete paraplegics of any nationality.

Image courtesy of The Mercury Newspaper, front page, 28 July 2008.

Recently, after winning a CSIRO Science Award for her project, she was invited to present a research paper to the 5th Biomedical Engineering International Conference in Bangkok, a conference which normally only accepts papers from post-graduate students and university lecturers. (See Australian schoolgirl a science sensation)

While her wheelchair will benefit countless people in the future, Laya has been designing and playing with robots for a long time, all of which she has documented on her web pages since 2006:

This is a great example of someone who has created a positive online presence that will prove to prospective employers her ongoing passion for robotics and her commitment to innovation and creativity.


Goodnight Moon/ Goodnight iPad

The book Goodnight Moon is an old but classic children’s picture book about a bunny saying goodnight to all the objects in his bedroom. As the story progresses, children can pick out changes that are happening on each of the pages. In a 2012 survey, it was placed at #4 on the School Library Journal’s list of the “Top 100 Picture Books,” a testament to its popularity over time, despite being published in 1947.

In a delightful parody of the book, Penguin USA have created a modern YouTube version of the story to appeal to “the gadget-crazy kid in all of us.” ( This version shows the plethora of electronic devices available to children these days, and how it’s a very good idea for them to say goodnight to each of these devices as they get ready to sleep.

Improve Your Digital Footprint

I came across this excellent SlideShare presentation this morning from a colleague at Mt Alvernia College Library, Brisbane. It was a link which came through in a Diigo teacher-librarian list, shared by Anne Weaver, another colleague here in Brisbane.

For a number of years now I have been very interested in teaching students to behave ethically and responsibly online, not only to limit and/or delete the inappropriate information they post/have posted online, but also to begin to create a positive online presence which they can confidently show to future employers. This year, across the school, we will be looking at what we already have in place and developing a structured and cohesive Digital Citizenship program.

I have put together on our Library website a collection of resources that I have found:  Digital Footprint and Change the World for Good. If you find other good examples of boys in particular who are using social media and an online presence to change the world for good, please let me know.