Students design emergency disaster beacon

When the students saw the images of people being rescued from flooded homes, they wondered about how to let first responders know how to find them.

LONGMONT - Within a space called The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools, there is something so innovative happening, it won a $10,000 grant.

"At first, I thought this project was going to be an old school project that it'll go to a science fair," Tanner David, Erie High School junior said.

David is one of 12 students from Erie and Skyline High School working on creating working emergency beacon system.

"Our main goal was to look at issues of natural disasters and locating people," Patrick Cummings. Erie High School junior said.

Students came up the concept after seeing the devastation from hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

"We felt that we could help the emergency services to find people and make search and rescue more efficient and save more lives," Kathryn Huonder, Erie High School senior, said.

The students are working to create a handheld beacon like a flashlight that someone can push if phone service is out due to a disaster. Rescuers would use another device attached to a drone to locate the beacon and relay that information to crews on the ground.

"If cell services are down, location systems are down, people are missing, the goal would be to use this beacon to help locate their exact position," Cummings said.

The idea is so good, students won a $10,000 Limelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant for Innovative Projects. Fifteen teams of students won the award to develop real-world solutions to serious problems. The students obtained a patent and are looking to mass produce this device worldwide.

"To be on a project to work with $10,000 in a school setting is an amazing opportunity," David said.

This is the type of thing the Innovation Center was created for. Students from around the district can use the labs, computers, 3D printers, and other equipment to come up with next-level ideas like the emergency beacon.

"The students of St. Vrain benefit tremendously from this Innovation Center because regardless of what high school they attend they can come here and collaborate these STEM projects," Matt Buchler, Erie High School principal said.

Buchler says the Innovation Center is an efficient and effective way to give students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math a way to tap into their own talents.

"I think it's important. It really creates a lot of enthusiasm for kids and it brings to life the curriculum that they've learned in their science and math classes because they're actually able to apply what they've learned," Buchler said.

The students have until June to complete the Emergency Beacon before presenting the final product in Boston with the other teams from around the country.

"It's definitely scary cause it has to work," Huonder said.

If it works, students believe it can become as common as a first aid kit or fire extinguisher in people's homes.

"I've always dreamed about helping the world out, but nothing in this scale," David said. "This is something way over than what my dreams have been."

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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