Southern Downs student wins trip to NASA
A YOUNG Allora inventor is headed on a trip to NASA in the US after winning a national Origin Energy littleBIGidea competition.
Jasmine Eldridge, 13, from Allora P-10 State School was announced as one of three winners from around the country this morning, during a special assembly at the school.
In a wonderful moment, Felicity Underhill of Origin Energy surprised Jasmine with the news in front of her thrilled schoolmates.
After jumping up and down and squealing with excitement for a minute, Jasmine said it was the greatest moment of her life.
"This is so amazing," she said.
"When I saw the news cameras and the Origin energy banner I knew something was going to happen, but I didn't expect it to be this."
Jasmine's littleBIGidea entry, Dog of Technology (D.O.T), is designed as an aid to assist children, who like herself, live with autism.
D.O.T is a robot dog which helps remind kids to take medication and has a button to notify family via email or text if they are needed in an emergency.
It also has a removable collar that can be used as a GPS wrist band and features LED lights programmed to flash in sequences to help the child calm down.
D.O.T is user-friendly, portable and includes breathing and calming strategies and interactive games.
Jasmine said she hoped her invention and win would inspire other kids to try to make a difference.
"It's so cool that my idea has been recognised like this," she said.
"It just shows that kids can do amazing stuff and people with autism can do amazing stuff.
"Autism isn't something to be ashamed of, we see things in a different way and understand things that others may not."
Jasmine said she hadn't done much research about the NASA headquarters.
"I didn't want to get my hopes up and be disappointed if I didn't win," she said.
"But now I can't wait to see where I'll be going."
Jasmine's parent Mark and Shelley were phoned last week and told Jasmine was one of the national winners.
"We were so excited," she said.
"But they asked us to keep it a secret from Jasmine, which was so hard to do.
"I could only let the school know, so we could arrange this special announcement today."
Mrs Eldridge said her talented daughter had been working on her idea for a few years.
"Her special interest is robotics and she's built this D.O.T prototype almost all by herself, with a little help from her Dad."
Mrs Eldridge said the family was thrilled when Jasmine was named as a finalist in the competition.
"We really didn't expect this though," she said.
"This is the realisation of her wildest dreams - she wants to be a robotics engineer and start her own business.
"I guess this is confirmation that she's well on her way."
Prior to being announced as a national winner Jasmine participated in an Engineers Without Borders design workshop along with other finalists in the competition.
Competition judge, biomedical engineer Jordan Nguyen said Jasmine's idea was one that could have a positive impact for many people.
"Jasmine has done an exceptional job of creating and prototyping her invention to help young people like her with autism," Dr Nguyen said.
"The invention is accessible and could be commercialised.
"It's exciting that she has coded the invention herself and that it is programmed to serve multiple functions in different scenarios. I
"I am very excited looking forward to seeing the next steps in this invention."
Jasmine is one of three national winners alongside Amelia Fox from Brunswick North Primary School, and Bella Winfield from St. Anthony's Parish Primary School.
Over 1000 entries were received for the nation-wide competition and the 12 finalists all won $1000.
Shelley Eldridge will accompany her daughter on the trip to NASA in Florida on a date yet to be announced.