EDMOND — A child’s concern for a pet in a hot car set in motion an idea that has brought national recognition to an Edmond elementary school.
The 22nd annual ExploraVision science program, sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association, has awarded three second-graders at John Ross Elementary in Edmond a national first place award.
The students won in the kindergarten through grade 3 division for their hot car warning safety design concept. The students came up with the idea of an alarm system to prevent babies, toddlers and pets from being left in a hot vehicle.
Elora Johnson, Neel Mandal and Ciara Newberry won a trip to Washington, D.C., in June. There they will be formally recognized while showing off their idea. They also will tour Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress.
Each winning team member also receives a $10,000 savings bond.
“This was a great surprise,” said Heidi Walter, John Ross enrichment teacher.
This was Walter’s fourth team in seven years to win a regional competition, but the first to win at the national level. The team competed against teams from five other national regions, she said.
“A drum line from Edmond North (high school) was here today to help celebrate the announcement,” she said.
‘Something should be done’
It all started last summer when Elora saw a dog left in a hot car in Oklahoma City.
“She thought something should be done about that, and then we started to look at the statistics of babies left in cars,” Walter said. Only a few minutes in a vehicle, with windows rolled up on a hot day, can be very harmful and sometimes fatal.
That’s when they got the idea of a warning system. By January, they had submitted to ExploraVision a written proposal.
Having passed that scrutiny, they moved to the second phase the competition. They put together a video, as well as a website at dev.nsta.org/evwebs/2014k5/, explaining the problem and their solution.
The children’s idea is called “The Hot Car Safety System.” A sensor panel in the backseat works with the car’s computer in detecting weight and temperature.
When activated, the following would take place:
•The windows roll down to let fresh air in the car.
•The alarm starts to repeat loudly, “Hot car, baby inside.” It repeats that until the car owner or police turn it off.
•The system notifies 911.
•The GPS on the car lets police and ambulance know where to go to get medical attention for the child.
In their written proposal, the children had to explain why such technology didn’t already exist.
“What they found is people didn’t think they needed it,” Walter said. “We did compare it to President Obama wanting all new cars to have cameras when people back up.”
Earlier this month, it was announced the students had won at the regional level.
“I’m proud of the students,” Walter said. “They have big plans for their future. One wants to be a teacher and another a doctor.”