Young scientist

Mancos teen determined to make a difference

Easton LaChappelle, third from the right, taped an episode of “Figure It Out” for Nickelodeon. It will air on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. and a viewing of the show will be at the Millwood Junction Restaurant. Enlargephoto

Special to the Times

Easton LaChappelle, third from the right, taped an episode of “Figure It Out” for Nickelodeon. It will air on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. and a viewing of the show will be at the Millwood Junction Restaurant.

He’s taking it to the next phase.

Easton LaChappelle went to Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, Calif. to tape an episode of Nickolodeon, the “Figure It Out” show with his robotic hand. The panel had to figure out what he invented.

“It’s been a regular feature since the 1980s,” LaChappelle said.

“It’s a game show type of format,” he said. “You go in front of celebrity panel and they ask you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions and they try to guess what you do. The more you answer ‘no’, the more prizes you get.”

There were two contestants per episode, he said and LaChappelle’s correct answer was ‘invented robot-controlled glove’.

And then after the questions, he did a demonstration of his robotic hand for the panel, where he shook the host’s hand and tossed a ball.

“It was actually pretty fun,” he said, despite getting “slimed” along with the other contestants.

He said he wore a light shirt underneath his clothes just to keep him warm. “It’s cold on the set ... and the slime is cold, too!” he said.

He went to L.A. with his parents, Julia Whelihan and Patrick LaChappelle, and his girlfriend, Indika. They took in a few of the exciting sights while they were there. Hollywood Boulevard was close by the studio and they were right downtown. They toured Hollywood and Beverly Hills and saw the houses of the stars during the four days they were there.

In California, LaChappelle said, there is a law that says if you’re on television for a certain number of hours, you have to have some schooling, too. So LaChappelle did some tutoring for three hours while he was there.

But while he was on the set, he liked watching the people get ready for the show and see the host go over what the contestants were going to say. “It’s cool to see how it all flows,” LaChappelle said. The host for the “Figure It Out” show was also the host for other Nickelodeon shows. It takes 10 days total to shoot the whole season, he said, as it shows every day.

The other contestants were just as interesting, LaChappelle said. “One kid had a yo-yo and was doing some amazing things with it. Another guy could bench press his sister…”

Next month, LaChappelle said, he’ll be featured in the December issue of Popular Science Magazine, and section called ‘How 2.0’

“They came and did a photo shoot of me and my project already. It was really cool…they are definitely professional,” he said.

LaChappelle has plans for the arm that started out as his science project only a year and a half ago, with Legos and electrical tape. He hopes to one day make a fully operational prosthesis that will allow people who have lost their hand and arm. “I want to be able to control it through EEG and ECG waves,” he said. That would be both muscles and brain waves, from the fingertip to the elbow. He also is figuring out how best to attach it to a human arm.

“That will be different for me, but it’s the next step I have to take,” he said. With LaChappelle’s arm, he will need different sensors, he will need to find motors that are compatible to the size and weight of each arm, and he will then need to find a good synthetic skin — all this in an affordable format so that the average person will be able to use it. He is partnering with people who know about many of the things he’s working on

“I eventually want to market it,” he said.

A special viewing of the Nickelodeon show will happen at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Millwood Junction Restaurant.