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DHS engineering solutions advance in Samsung contest

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Logan Freed, Jaspar Carmichael, Hannah Owens and Lizzy Ward have come up with a solution to absorb excess noise in the cafeteria at Lincoln Elementary.

Two groups from Delta High School and three others have been named state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a competition that encourages students to solve issues in their community using science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) for a chance to win a share of $2 million in technology.

The DHS students unveiled their engineering solutions at a presentation in November before school board members, community leaders and DHS staff. The juniors and seniors are students in Ben Magtutu's PhLEM -- Physics Learning, Engineering and Mathematics -- class.

The team of Elizabeth Ward, Hannah Owens, Jaspar Carmichael and Logan Freed is focusing on reducing the decibel level in school facilities, beginning with the cafeteria at Lincoln Elementary School, where the excited voices of dozens of kids bounce and multiply off the walls, ceilings and floor. If children are exposed to high sound levels for an extended period of time, their psychological and physiological health can be affected.

The students proposed a two-prong approach of reduction and absorption. They have designed sound panels to be installed on the cafeteria ceiling to absorb the sound in the room. The panels will also reinforce the school's ideals with words such as "pride" and "respect" printed on the surface.

To get the kids to "turn down the volume" they've also designed a monitor that will measure the decibel level in the room and indicate by light when the noise level is reaching an unacceptable range.

The other project was inspired by a visit to HopeWest hospice, but provides a solution for anyone with arthritis who finds it difficult to grip and turn a door handle. Using the existing door knob mechanism, this team developed a solution that is pain-free and requires no wrist motion, only a gentle push downward on an extension they built with a 3D printer at school.

Team members Derek Kendrick, Thomas Neil, Zach Nicholson and Stevie Butler said the 3D printer allows them to customize the device for any doorknob and any individual. They estimated the cost of production at $1 for each unit.

DHS instructor Kyle Crowder worked with this group of students.

The other three state finalists and the issues they plan to address are:

Vista Academy, Denver -- Using a 3D printer to design custom prosthesis.

Fitzsimmons Middle School, Bailey -- Developing a fundraising website and event center for local veterans.

The Vanguard School, Colorado Springs -- Processing school waste to produce fertilizer for landscaping projects.

The state finalist schools were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEAM learning. As state finalists, each classroom will receive one Samsung Galaxy Tab® and the opportunity to advance in the competition and win additional prizes.

The 255 state finalists will create lesson plans that put their ideas into action. From there, 51 state winners (representing all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.) will be selected and receive $25,000 in technology for their school.

From the pool of 51 state winners, 10 national finalists will be selected. The national finalists will then pitch their idea live in New York to a panel of judges and America will be able to vote on their favorite ideas.

Three national winners will be named and honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning schools will receive a $150,000 technology grant as well as a $20,000 donation to their nonprofit of choice.

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