DOWNINGTOWN — Chester County high school students skilled in science, technology, engineering and math competed in this year’s regional Governor’s STEM competition on Wednesday, February 1 at the Chester County Intermediate Unit.
This year, Conestoga High School finished on top, with Coatesville Area High School coming in a close second and Technical College High School Pickering Campus securing third. The title of the winning proposal was “The SafeBit.” The project was created to help alert the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the event of a fire. The wearable device vibrates much like a FitBit when it “hears” an alarm at a pre-determined decibel level within a certain duration. As the Chester County winners, the Conestoga High School students will advance to the state contest with an additional $750 stipend to improve their prototype. Plans to improve their device include expanding the alert to include carbon monoxide and other emergency alarm notifications.
Eight teams of students from the Chester County area, including Conestoga High School, were asked to select an issue, conduct research, design, construct and finally present a prototype that was able to insure a better quality of life for residents of Pennsylvania. Students were provided a $500 stipend to aid in their mission. This year’s theme was “Making our lives better through STEM.”
The competition aims to help students further their knowledge of STEM concepts including computer science, biotechnology and mechanical engineering, and challenged teams to work together in a surprise “Project-In-a-Box” teamwork task.
During the weeks of preparation for the competition, students reached out to STEM companies in their local community to educate themselves about STEM careers and collaborated with a mentor from the industry to aid them in their research and application. The students then presented their prototype and findings to a panel of judges who graded the presentations based on a statewide rubric.
Throughout the process of this competition, students gained other powerful skills that will last a lifetime including creative problem solving, public speaking and collaboration. Coatesville Area High School student Kendal Wilkes noted, “We planned something and it didn’t work, so we went back and tried again.” Teammate Malcolm Kenyon added, “What’s great is that you get the final satisfaction of saying I made this, from the beginning.” The students ultimately found that the competition was not only fun, but brought them closer to their classmates. “Don’t be afraid to go out there and try something new,” urged Coatesville student Victoria Foster, “It’s a lot of fun to come together and build something new.”