Tribune-Courier News Reporter
An invention by a group of freshmen at Marshall County High School has earned them a chance to compete on a national level with their device designed to put out fires.
The students have developed a working prototype that effectively combats fires, and their work has won them a trip to Washington D.C. on June 16 – 20 to compete to be national winners of the U.S. Army-sponsored eCYBERMISSION competition.
The Marshall County team – Hunter Peck, Max Chambers and Will McGee – will compete against 19 other teams that have been selected as regional first-place winners in the 12th-annual competition, which challenges students in grades six through nine to develop solutions to real-world challenges in their communities.
Lisa Devillez, AP Chemistry teacher and team adviser, said she had 28 teams of students enter inventions in the contest this year, but she was proud one of them had gone so far in the competition already.
The team has already won at the state and regional level, which Devillez said is an impressive feat for a group of ninth-graders.
“I thinks it’s great they’ve gone the extra mile to build an actual prototype that they’ve been able to take to the Benton Fire Department and get feedback on,” she said. “They’ve looked to see if they can get their device patented and see if they can eventually sell it. This team has really worked well together – they’ve really gone above and beyond.”
Chambers said when his team first learned about the competition in Devillez’ Science Technology and Reasoning Skills elective class they wanted to do something much harder.
“We toyed with the idea of building a robot that could deliver oxygen to a victim inside of a burning building, but we quickly realized that was going to be nearly impossible because oxygen is flammable,” he said. “Then we decided to build a robot that would dispense water in the building.”
Chambers said the team quickly realized that with the limited amount of time and money they would have to actually work on the project they would need to simplify the project and that was how they decided on building a more sophisticated water-dispensing unit.
Peck said that was how TITAN was born.
“The Independent Throwable Attack Nozzle,” he said. “We were going to make it spherical, but we saw that a dodecahedron has all the vertexes which will help firefighters break through windows easier.”
A dodecahedron is a polyhedron with 12 sides and 20 vertices.
The device is designed to be attached to a fire hose and be deployed through a window of a burning building, allowing water to be dispensed from inside to create a safer path of escape and an entrance for firefighters.
The competition is based around the idea of developing solutions to real-world challenges in communities and the team got their own idea from one of their childhood friends who lost her life in a fire.
McGee said, “When we were younger there was a girl we were friends with who died in a fire and we’ve known other people who have lost people in house fires and that kind of gave us the inspiration to do this.”
McGee said he hopes this might one day save someone else from losing a loved one.
According to Devillez, the team has used the tutelage of the Benton Fire Department in testing the device and guiding them to make sure it works effectively.
Although the D.C. trip is two weeks away, the team is getting anxious.
“We’re lucky to have come this far, but we’ve worked hard and we’re anxious to meet the other teams and see what they’ve accomplished too,” Chambers said.
The students have already won $9,000 for their work from the state and regional events of the competition, and could win another $20,000 in the finals.
The U.S. Army-sponsored eCYBERMISSION science competition (ecybermission.com) is managed by the National Science Teachers Association and challenges students to identify real-world problems and create solutions using science, technology, engineering and math.