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Stroke-detecting invention recognized in national STEM


New Orleans, La.

By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America

Naya Ellis, a 14-year-old with a deep passion for science and helping others, has designed a stroke-detecting watch, earning her a championship in the National STEM Challenge. Inspired by her own experiences of caring for her mother during a health battle and motivated by a desire to address real-world health issues, Naya crafted this innovative device as a freshman at John F. Kennedy High School in New Orleans.

Her participation in STEM NOLA, a program aimed at providing K-12 students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and students of color, with hands-on STEM education and opportunities, catalyzed her invention. Initially intrigued by the idea of detecting seizures, Naya shifted her focus to stroke detection, influenced by her grandmother's experience with stroke. 

The watch, named WingItt, identifies potential strokes by monitoring nerve impulses and heartbeats, targeting adults over 55, a demographic more prone to strokes. Naya aims to make her lifesaving device affordable, distinguishing it from costly health-monitoring technology.

"I want to do something I'm interested in that will also change the world," she says.

As a recognized innovator among over 2,500 students nationwide, she now looks forward to presenting her invention at the inaugural National STEM Challenge festival in Washington, D.C., and exploring further opportunities in STEM, aspiring to a future in medicine as an obstetrician-gynecologist.