England class submits projects to ExploraVision competition

england_FIStudents in Melinda Schermerhorn’s fifth-grade class at England Elementary School are thinking toward the future for ExploraVision, a competition that tasks teams to research and develop ideas for what current technology will look like in 20 years.

ExploraVision, a science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) competition sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science Teachers Association, is open to all K-12 students in the United States and Canada.

“We started out in September and brainstormed ideas about daily life and challenges that people face,” Schermerhorn said. “One of my suggestions was for them to really tap into their passions, experiences and things that they felt they were experts on.”

Six groups within the class submitted projects, which consisted of an interactive hologram tablet, a digital prosthetic leg to replace physical therapy, a chip within a car to detect mechanical issues after an accident, a vibrating solar-powered cane for the visually impaired, robotic firefighters and a transportable water filter.

Along with developing the idea, the groups had to submit research, pros and cons of their product and an abstract document, all of which totaled about 11 pages. The groups also created websites for their products, including five separate web pages with in-depth information.

Schermerhorn’s class is the Next Generation classroom at England Elementary, guaranteeing each student has access to a personal tablet at all times, which helped with the project.

“One of the things that the students have learned is there’s not a lot of downtime because they have a tablet in front of them that can get them to an e-book, internet research and documents online,” Schermerhorn said.

“There’s not a wasted moment, and that’s the best part of having technology in the classroom.”

The six groups of students will present their projects at Leonard Talk!, a TED-style lecture event. Leonard Talk! will be held at 9 a.m. February 19 in the England cafeteria.

Regional winners of the contest will be announced March 16 and national winners will be announced April 24.