Using shoes to make children addicted to STEM
It’s summer, and after more than a year of disrupted schoolwork, summer STEM and education programs are more essential than ever to getting kids back on track. For some Delaware kids, the highlight of this summer may be learning ergonomics or the bioscience of making things work with the human body for efficiency and safety. This is something that is at the heart of sports, as well as the design of sneakers.
Nicole homer, co-founder of the biotech shoe startup (and Start302 grant recipient) HX innovations, with her husband / co-founder Von Homer, first developed a curriculum for the FAME (The Forum for the Advancement of Minorities in Engineering) summer program in 2019 with an evaluation of the shoes.
“We helped them understand the process of creating sneakers and how human movement was applied to that process,” said Nicole Homer. Technically. “The kids loved it. This year, [FAME is] in person and they reached out to us, so what we do is get moving, get out there and encourage the kids to get moving.
The process is similar to HX Innovations’ human movement assessments that predict how shoes will perform in their real-world business. Using IMU sensors, students in Grades 7-10 will spend part of their summer measuring their biomechanical levels while wearing different pairs of shoes and using that information to create shoe designs that meet specific performance needs. Much of the program will take place outdoors, where students will perform human movement assessments, as well as indoor lab work.
Part of the show’s appeal, she said, lies in the behind-the-scenes look at the technology behind sneakers – and the children’s awareness that shoes are as much about science as they are fashion.
“Some kids like to know more about sneakers, not just the colors, but also what goes into making shoes and how the science is behind this process. Now they’re like, ‘It’s not just shoes,’ ”she said. “We use a portable sensor to calculate the matrices, and when they see what’s on the screen, it’s so fascinating to them.”
Working with FAME is something the young and growing startup plans to continue and develop. 3D models are on their wishlist for future iterations, if they receive enough funding for it.
“FAME is one of the oldest engineering programs for students of color, so working with them is always a treat for us,” she said. “It’s so much fun – it’s beyond being relevant in the ecosystem financially, it’s actually going to attract a whole new generation of ‘rocket-mad scientists’, and I think that part, for us, is invaluable. . “