The Edmond Sun

April 26, 2014

Hot idea wins first place

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Members of a John Ross Elementary team have received national recognition for their development of a hot car safety system.

On Wednesday, Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association announced the 2014 national winners of the world’s largest K-12 science and technology competition with 4,954 teams representing 15,282 students from the United States and Canada.

John Ross enrichment teacher and team coach Heidi Walter, mentor Kathy Conrad and students Elora Johnson, 8, Ciara Newberry, 8, and Neel Mandal, 7, created the system and entered it in the K-3 category of the 22nd annual ExploraVision program.  They captured first place nationally in this category. The program was created to inspire innovative technologies that could help build a better future.

Members of the four first place national winning teams receive a $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings bond (at maturity). All students from the eight first place and second place teams will receive an expenses-paid trip with their families, mentor and coach to Washington, D.C., for a gala awards weekend June 4-7.

Activities will include a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and a science showcase during which the students will display and demonstrate their winning ideas.

John Ross Principal Christa Ellis said the team members were notified about the news and read a related email message together. Ellis said the team was honored during a school assembly Friday morning.

“I am extremely proud of them and extremely happy for team coach Heidi Walter who put in a lot of work,” Ellis said.

Walter said as team captain she always hoped they would advance to this point, but to actually have it come to pass is great for them. Walter said learning about the recognition with members, seeing their reaction, was a special moment.

“It was a little surreal,” she said.

In the team’s presentation posted at, members stated vehicles have many safety features that help stop accidents, and child restraints keep kids safe.

But they are not good if an infant cannot get out of them when a vehicle is too hot.

Team members conducted research and learned last year six children died because they were left in a vehicle on a hot day and got sick from the heat. Since 1998, the total number children who have died this way is 603.

“This is an important problem and there is NOTHING in the car to stop this,” the team stated in its entry.

Based on an outside reading of 80 degrees, in slightly more than 2 minutes the temperature inside a car rose to an unsafe temperature of 94.3 degrees; in 60 minutes it rose to 123 degrees, according to a National Weather Service study.

When it gets too hot for people or animals inside, the team’s hot car safety system makes a sound designed for alerting the public. When a new sensor plate placed under the back seat detects motion, the system turns on. When the car gets too hot, it calls 911, the lights on the car flash and the windows roll down.

“This device will save lives of babies, toddlers and animals accidentally left in a car,” team members stated. | 341-2121

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