Person's hand scrolling through news article on tablet Image


Elementary school students design pill-dispensing robot with the help from LECOM

A “pill-popping” robot showed LECOM faculty and administrators how easy it would be to help geriatric patients take their medications.  Students from Iroquois Elementary School in Lawrence Park, PA formed the Electric Dreams: Senior Solutions team to design and build a robot to dispense medicine properly and on time.

Colin Baxter explains the safety features of the Electronic Dreams Senior Solutions robot.

Their entry in the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) 2012 Senior Solutions Challenge was the First Place Directors Award winner in the Lego League Regional Championship at Penn State Behrend.  In the competition, student teams design projects that will improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities?

The FLL Challenge has 3 parts – the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The values involve teamwork, learning and discovery, friendly competition and shared experiences and professionalism. The Robot Game and Project are what teams do, and the Core Values guide teams through the experience.

LECOM sponsored the Iroquois Elementary School Electric Dreams Lego Robotics team and these future pharmacists, physicians and dentists visited the Erie campus to demonstrate the pharmacy robot that is taking them to the state championship next month in Pittsburgh.

The students, Julia Cecchetti, Colin Baxter. Leo Nicolussi, Annie Rose, and Morgan Schnars first met with their Senior Partner, 75-year-old, Bill Edger, Sr.  He told them how difficult life becomes as we age and how hard  it is for him to put on his shoes and remember to take his medicines.

They took a trip to the LECOM Institute for Successful Aging.  They met with James Lin, DO, LECOM 2002 who specializes in geriatric medicine. He explained the common problems that seniors have in their homes and the students him some of our ideas to fix them. One of the problems was remembering to take pills and which ones to take. They came up with the automatic pill dispenser that sounds an alarm when it’s time to take medications.

Dr. James Lin of LECOM Institue for Successful Aging assisted the robotics team. L-R: Colin Baxter, Dr. Lin, Leo Nicolussi, Julia Cecchetti, Annie Rose, and Morgan Schnars.

Cheryl Buscemi, Case Manager for HealthSouth, also provided guidance based on her experience with home nursing visits to seniors. To facilitate the project, the team relied on coaches Mark Cecchetti, Bill Baxter, Mark Nicolussi and Crystal Cecchetti. The next step for the team is to secure a patent on their design.