Incidents around the country of sometimes deadly, inadvertent abandonment of infants strapped into safety seats in the back of vehicles during hot weather prompted the teens to invent a safety alert app to help distracted parents and prevent pediatric heatstroke.
“This project is a great representation of the experiential course work that our students are doing where a real-world problem is confronted and through their ingenuity, problem-solving skills, and teamwork, they come up with real-world solutions,” said Rice.
“The added bonus for such a competition is in the prize. The $100,000 in technology will be used by all students in the science department so that each will have an opportunity to interact with technology while studying present-day, science-related issues,” he said.
Fairfield advanced placement physics teacher Kurt Etter said the teens’ invention “utilized a pressure sensor button that was in constant communication with the driver’s cell phone.”
“A notification is sent to the driver’s cell phone and if two conditions are met simultaneously. Condition one is the button is still depressed due to the weight a child still in their car. Condition two is the driver’s cell phone is more than 20 feet away from the car,” said Etter.
Etter said earning the top national honor required his students “to come up with a problem, creatively develop a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) solution, submit a written application, research the problem, present their case to Samsung senior management, write computer code, develop a video and answer questions in an interview setting.”
Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools, called the national honor “a very big deal for our district.”
“It speaks volumes about STEM-related courses that we offer, and the teacher leaders who are engaging students with these kinds of opportunities,” she said.