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Backcountry IV

School: NuVu: The Innovation School

City/State: Cambridge, MA

Grade(s): 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Device

Subject(s): Health and Wellness, Science and Technology

Project Overview

As part of the Brink: Biometric Interface studio—an exploration of better technologies for those who work or play in extreme conditions—Nuvu students Jordana Conti, Sydney Brown, Oliver Geller, Devin Lewtan, Laurel Sullivan and Max Dadagian created an innovative solution to a common threat: hypothermia.

Hypothermia is typically treated in a hospital, where a patient is given a heated IV of warm saline solution. This treatment method raises the patient’s core body temperature while also providing much-needed nutrients and hydration. However, most cases of hypothermia happen far away from hospitals, in extreme weather conditions or remote locations. To address this need, the Nuvu team decided to create a portable heated IV, specifically designed for the context and needs of those in extreme climates or altitudes, such as high altitude climbers. Their product is intended as a temporary solution—a way of sustaining a higher core body temperature until the user can gain access to proper medical attention.

The team’s first concept was a portable IV bag, but due to the limited space and weight constraints of climbing, students decided to hybridize a tool that is ubiquitous among climbers: the Nalgene water bottle. In order to purify the water in the Nalgene, students went through many design iterations. Their final design consists of UV lights, powered by a 3.9 ohm resistor and an Arduino board, hooked into a temperature sensor. In order to move the heated solution into the user’s bloodstream IV tubing connects the liquid to a needle, which is clipped into a personalized 3D printed semicircle that acts as a cuff. Additional items in the kit include the salt tablet and an infrared vein finder.

Prior to their invention of the Backcountry IV, there were no portable products capable of alleviating hypothermia. 

At NuVu, an innovation school in Cambridge, MA, middle and high school students learn in an open and flexible space that is more akin to an architecture studio than a classroom. Some students attend NuVu for a two-week intensive and for others it is their full time high school.

Instead of one-hour classes and separate subjects, students engage in solving a problem through multi-disciplinary learning, all day, for two weeks. Groups of twelve students collaborate on the creative process, with expert guidance from two coaches who have expertise in a related field. Throughout the process students conduct precedent research, engage in brainstorming, render drafts of their ideas, create prototypes and write and reflect on their findings and processes. Their work is captured in a portfolio along with documentation of the final products they debut at the end of each studio session. These portfolios are publically viewable on NuVu’s website

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a compelling way to engage students in authentic work that makes the world a safer place
  • Beautiful example of students planning a solution pathway to solve a real life challenges and building perseverance in the face of setbacks
  • Excellent example of how a real life problem challenges students academically and creatively
  • Models a product which could be easily reproduced due to its practical usefulness, professional quality, and low cost
  • High-quality example of students drafting, assessing, revising, and collaborating with peers to create an important product
  • Successful use of outside experts to guide students work
  • Compelling field work to engage and motivate students

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