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Wilton Junior-Senior High School named finalist in Samsung ‘Solve for Tomorrow’ contest

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 6:57 AM CST
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WILTON, Iowa (KWQC) - STEM education is paying off, literally, for students at Wilton Junior-Senior High School.

A student project was just named as one of 75 nationwide semifinalists of the Samsung “Solve for Tomorrow” contest.

It’s a nationwide contest to help the community through technology.

“Their idea is that they really want to focus on STEM, the science, technology, engineering, and math,” Ag teacher Gary Bruns said. “We of course call it STEAM, science technology, engineering, agriculture, and math.”

In the past, the class has worked on ways to make deer and farm equipment more visible in the dark. This year, the concept the students came up with is something to help protect the health of farm animals.

“First thing vets come out to do at the farm is take their temperature and it was easiest for us to tell what was wrong with the animals because they are in pens separated from all the rest, but in confinement barns, they are more easily going unnoticed,” Hayley Madlock, a sophomore, said.

Identifying a single sick hog in a group of dozens or hundreds can be difficult, if not impossible, so the students came up with the idea for the solution. “Our idea is to have a mounted system that circles all the pens and has an infrared thermometer on it that would measure any animal that has a fever, and if it does, using another type of sensor, identify that with a spray or a liquid of some type or powder to mark this animal and then also send a message to the farmer with a cell phone and say hey, you have a sick animal in pen 24 or one with an elevated temperature,” Bruns said.

“Basically prevent a major problem of spreading through a confinement building or cure this animal and not lose any income.” That concept won the school $15,000 to use on school supplies as a prize for being named one of the 75 semifinalists.

“I was really excited and happy about it and it just made me glow,” Madlock said. Students will spend the next couple of month building, testing, and coming up with a three-minute presentation to try to make it in the final 10 schools, giving the kids, hands-on, real-world experience in using stem education to improve technology in their community.

“It was pretty fun,” she said. “I enjoyed learning about it and working with the different technology I needed to learn about to solve this problem.” Bruns added, “Do the kids ever amaze me? Yes, and I think they amaze themselves.”

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