How inventor’s visit is inspiring Steward School students

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Jessica Jordan, a junior at The Steward School in Henrico, is holding a stuffed frog in the campus’ Bryan Innovation Lab.

"I can't remember his name from when I was little," Jessica said.

We’ll get back to the frog in a bit.

First, let’s talk about another visitor to the lab.

As part of the 2016-2017 Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovators Program, The Steward School invited Leah Buechley, an inventor and educator in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) movement.

The program is "Beautiful Technology: Blending high tech with traditional craft to bring programming off of our screens and into our hands."

She’s here to teach students about cutting-edge tools and future trends of interactive wearable technology that can be used in robotics, fashion, sports, medical fields, and more.

"We're kind of in the middle of this transition now, but we're going to see more of it going forward," Buechley said. "Where we carry, like computers and electronics with us wherever we go."

Carrie Jamison, Director of the Bryan Innovation Lab said Ms. Buechley was here to stitch the first thread of interest in her students.

"It's really important for the kids to be involved with it because of jobs," Jamison said. "As they're going into education, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for them to invent and work with people."

It's more than just LED lights and conductive thread. This kind of technology could change everything from fuzzy animals to football. That's where the frog hops into this story.

"We chose to look into the sports world and make some football gear for this frog," Jessica said. "(There is) a helmet with blue tooth connectivity so you can speak to other players and your coach.  Then our shoulder pads have motion detectors on the back that would tell you when another player is coming up behind you."

"It's important and really inspiring to me to help other people make stuff and build stuff," Ms. Buechley said, "and to make that process as easy and as interesting and exciting as possible."