The Edmond Sun

March 31, 2014

Toshiba names Edmond team as regional winners

John Ross students take car safety system idea to nationals

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — John Ross Elementary students Elora Johnson, 8, Ciara Newberry, 8, and Neel Mandal, 7, mentor Kathy Conrad and coach Heidi Walter are developing a “hot car safety system,” which will sound an alarm when a car is too hot for people or animals.

In a video demonstrating their project, the students spoke about the reason for their effort — since 1998 there have been 603 heat-related deaths in cars, and 73 percent of those who died were children under the age of 2.

The sun’s shortwave radiation heats objects it strikes. 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.

Unsafe temperatures can lead to heat stroke and heat stroke can lead to death.

The John Ross team is developing a panel of sensors — a cushion — resembling a heating pad that is placed in the back seat under a cushion. When an infant is placed on the cushion, motion activates the sensors. When the temperature reaches 100 degrees, the “hot car safety system” is activated.

At that point, windows roll down, the car makes a special noise to let people know there’s a baby inside and local first responders are notified, said Walter, the John Ross enrichment teacher.

“I just wanted to help the kids be safer,” Ciara said.

Elora said at first, she didn’t know a lot about the issue.

“But then I learned about what happens and got a little concerned,” she said.

Neel said the website helped in the research part of the project.

Nawajes Mandal, Neel’s father, said his son is a good reader and as a result knows a lot.

“I didn’t know about the hot car safety system at all,” Mandal said. “He searched a website and he found all of that information.”

During Friday morning’s assembly, team members were recognized by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association for being a regional winner of the ExploraVision program, the world’s largest K-12 science competition.

“It’s a great idea that’s gonna save lots of lives,” Walter said.

Toshiba America Business Solutions representative Shawn Frost congratulated the team for their fourth regional win in six years. They are one of 24 regional winners out of close to 5,000 entries this year.

“I know I share this with your parents, classmates, community and friends when I say how proud we all are of your wonderful achievement,” Frost said.

Conrad, a former member of Edmond Public Schools’ information technology staff, said she helped the team members by asking them a few questions to get them thinking in the right direction and assisted with developing a web page.

“I think they are an excellent group,” Conrad said. “I am really impressed with their project and the work that they put into it.”

Members of the John Ross team received plaques and a Toshiba tablet, the school received a laptop computer and the team advances to the national level where they will compete for $10,000 in U.S. savings bonds and other prizes. | 341-2121, ext. 108