Miami Springs teen takes home top prize at state science fair

    Research was recently conducted in Miami Springs that could one day empower disabled people to control wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs using their brainwaves and their thoughts.  This innovative technology could make life for disabled people more convenient, and allow them to be more independent. This study was conducted by none other than 13-year-old Miami Springs resident Daniela Rodriguez.

    Rodriguez attends Blessed Trinity Catholic School and has just won “Best in Fair” at this year’s 58th Annual State Science and Engineering Fair. It is the state’s largest academic competition. For three days, she competed against over 900 other finalists from 37 regional science engineering fairs around the state. 

    Her project, entitled “Can Your Brainwaves Move Robotic Equipment?” was recognized by several organizations.  Rodriguez won a first-place award in engineering and was recognized by The National Society of Engineers and The Florida Foundation for Future Scientists. She has also been chosen to compete at Broadcom Masters, the national science, technology, engineering and math competition for students in middle school.

    Rodriguez is not just an extremely bright student, she also is a humanitarian. She was inducted as a Ying Scholar. Ying Scholar inductees are recognized because their research projects have the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity. Her project wasn’t just about making the grade, but Daniela’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, and Daniela is working hard to find a way to keep her mom independent.

    “Daniela gives 100 percent in everything she does. She is someone you can always count on,” said Maylin Lapido-Rodriguez, Miami Springs resident and middle school English teacher at Blessed Trinity School. “Daniela is very kind and compassionate inside and outside of the classroom. She is always willing to help a fellow classmate with an assignment, or lend a hand to a younger student at school.”

    As Rodriguez conducted her study, friends and family came to her home to participate. They each met Steve. Steve is the award-wining robot that is controlled by brainwaves. The robot captures the brainwaves of electrochemical activity. Basically, the nerve impulse produced by the brain is sent to the robot. Rodriguez hopes that her technology will help paralyzed people in the future by enabling them to use their brainwaves to control movements.

    “This is an incredible honor for me,” she said. “I am so blessed to have been able to represent Blessed Trinity and the Archdiocese of Miami. I have to thank Mrs. Maria T. Perez, my principal; Ms. Josefina Gonzalez, my science teacher; and Mrs. Maylin Rodriguez-Lapido, my sponsor. I also have to thank my family and friends for their love, their guidance and their support.

    “My work doesn’t stop here. My dream is to continue my research and someday in high school be the first to represent the Archdiocese of Miami at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world's largest international science competition. I would be competing against more than 1,500 high school students from about 70 countries.”

    Rodriguez has the news media from all over knocking on her door and it’s not just media from South Florida that’s recognizing her accomplishments. Blessed Trinity alumna Olivia (Curnow) Pitkethly, Class of 1990 who now lives in Newberry, Fla., saw Rodriguez on the news in Gainesville.

    “When I saw her and her project featured on the Gainesville news, it brought back many happy memories of my years at BTS,” Pitkethly said. “I’m glad to see others taking advantage of the quality education that Blessed Trinity offers.”

    The community is buzzing about Rodriguez and her incredible success. Blessed Trinity Parrish and School couldn’t be more proud as they posted information about her success with a big “congratulations” to her on their Facebook page. The Archdiocese of Miami also shared her story online.

    Rodriguez also has been contacted by prosthetic companies who have expressed interest in her successful study and program. Who knows where this study will lead in the way of technology and engineering. What is a certain outcome of this study is that a bright future awaits 13-year-old Daniela Rodriguez.