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Norfolk Technical Vocational Center InvenTeam

The Problem

Most students carry backpacks with heavy loads that can cause neck, back and shoulder pain. This can also result in permanent damage to the muscular-skeletal system.

The Proposal

The Norfolk Technical Vocation Center InvenTeam decided to create an ergonomic backpack for middle and high school students that would cause less injury to the muscular-skeletal system.

The Invention

The "NorstarPack" can carry twenty pounds without creating neck, back, and shoulder strain. It uses a calculation of the percent of additional cervical force and the total degrees of deviation of the neck from the plumb line to lessen pressure on the muscular-skeletal system. This measurement standard follows Posture Pro assessment software, which is used by chiropractors nationwide.

The backpack has a total volume of 1,515 cubic inches. It has two slanted and expandable shelves, and the part of the backpack that lies along the spine and shoulders is padded with memory foam. The shelves and the bottom of the backpack are reinforced with semi-rigid plastic sheeting for support.

The Process

The team investigated other ergonomic backpacks that were available on the market. They contacted many experts in the area before they found Dr. Freedman in Newport, Va., who helped the team understand Posture Pro software.

The team split into three groups to devise different prototypes. After they chose the best one, they constructed a full-size prototype using nylon. The team then created its final prototype and adjusted it for rigidity, size, and comfort.