HOLMDEL, NJ - When you think of crochet, certain memories may come to you. Creating beautiful interlocking loops of yarn or other stands of material with a crochet hook, perhaps. You see a blanket, hat or perhaps a scarf.  It's truly and art and the designs can be quite exquisite.

Crochet, the name, is a French term, meaning 'small hook'. Now, the traditional thought process of crochet has just changed with the intersection of bluetooth technology, 'conductive' crochet and an incredible leap of possibilities weaving fabrics and high end science. 

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According to a Holmdel Schools news release: Amanda Shayna Ahteck is among 300 going into the next round of the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search. Ahteck is one of nearly 2,000 high school students who submitted their research projects in what is considered the oldest contest of its kind, founded by the Society for Science & the Public in 1942. Ahteck is the first Holmdel High School student to earn this recognition.  Her project titled ‘A Novel Low Cost Resistive Soft Crochet Stretch Sensor as Applied to a Wearable Bluetooth Keyboard Text Input Device – midiKEY’ utilizes conductive thread crochet chains, which act as sensors.  Five of these sensors are connected to a microcontroller each one of which is attached to a midi ring above the second knuckle of a hand.  These sensors can track if the finger is flexed or not. With programming, different patterns of flexed fingers are evaluated on the microcontroller to a corresponding letter or number. This character is sent over to a connected Bluetooth chip to send it over a Bluetooth signal to an enabled smart device. 

Shayna’s device, when attached to rings placed on the hands, can allow someone to type in mid-air! There are further possible applications of this device as a virtual reality controller and as a medical rehabilitation device for tracking hand injuries.

"Regeneron congratulates this year's Science Talent Search scholars, who have applied deep curiosity and rigorous research skills to the important scientific questions of today," said Hala Mirza, senior vice president of corporate communications and citizenship at Regeneron, a New York-based pharmaceuticals company that became the competition's sponsor in 2017.

Semifinalists will receive $2,000, as will their high school. Of that group, 40 will be announced as finalists before the end of the month, and they will receive a paid trip to Washington, D.C. in March to compete for $1.8 million in awards.

Shayna, the only student from Monmouth County, recognized this year by this program, is currently in her third year of Holmdel High School's Honors Advanced Research course, designed to engage students in high-level problem solving activities through original research and experimentation. Holmdel High School offers more than 20 courses in science, including the highly regarded Honors Advanced Research course. 

Dr. Josephine Blaha, who teaches the Honors Advanced Research class, says, “We are absolutely thrilled for Shayna. Shayna’s idea for her project came one day during her AP Physics class, where her teacher Mr. Keller was discussing the relationship of wire cross section to resistance.  From there she applied her love of crocheting and crocheted the sensors using conductive thread, conceiving this amazing project all on her own!  Congratulations, Shayna!  All Holmdel is proud of you!”  

Our crochet of yesterday meets the science of today with incredible possibilities in human connectivity.