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Students in STEM Competition Propose Device to Find Missing People in Emergency Situations

Downingtown, PA - Chester County high school students skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competed in this year’s regional Governor’s STEM competition on Wednesday, February 5 at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU).

Bishop Shanahan High School, Coatesville Area Senior High School and the Technical College High School Pickering Campus competed against each other for first place and the chance to advance to the state competition held in May. Bishop Shanahan came in first, continuing their winning streak from last year, TCHS Pickering secured second place and Coatesville came in third. The winning proposal was “EliAS,” an Emergency Location Indexing Application System created to help during emergency situations in hospitals, schools, senior care facilities and daycare centers. EliAS reduces the amount of time authorities need to locate or evacuate vulnerable individuals in high-risk situations. The system operates via an RFID chip that reveals the individual’s location on a visual user interface.

John Janasik, Bishop Shanahan High School mentor, recalls feeling nervous about his team following up on last year’s win. “It was a tough project to bring to fruition. We’re looking forward to moving on to States again,” says Janasik, “and we’re going to work even harder to get there. States involves a lot more in terms of how they present themselves and how the project is actually presented.” Bishop Shanahan co-captain, Brendan Papas, agrees with Janasik: “It was stressful, but we were able to work well together.” Moving forward, Noah Brady, Bishop Shanahan team co-captain, says that he and his teammates hope to “incorporate our future improvement plans into the device and make it into a bracelet instead of just an RFID chip.”

The Governor’s STEM competition is open to students in grades 9-12 who attend public, charter, private and career and technical education centers in Pennsylvania. Schools select a team of up to five students who work under the guidance of a teacher or mentor approved by the school. Each team selects an issue, conducts research, designs, constructs and presents a prototype to a panel of judges who grade the presentations using a statewide rubric. Students were given a $500 stipend to aid in their mission.

In preparing for the competition, students engaged with their local communities to learn about STEM-related careers, helping them develop solutions to problems and aid them in their research and application. Throughout the process, students gained valuable skills, such as communication, problem-solving and critical thinking, while providing a unique opportunity to share their creativity with students from across the state. 

Bishop Shanahan High School students will advance to the state competition held on May 7-8, 2020, with an additional $750 stipend to improve their prototype.

Photo Caption: The winning team from Bishop Shanahan High School poses with their 1st place trophy after the Governor’s STEM competition award ceremony on Wednesday, February 5.

Kelsey Kilgore
kelseyk@cciu.org
484-237-5214