Ashland Students Once Again Solving For Samsung

Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


   When a group of Ashland Middle School students became National Champions in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest a few years ago, they started a legacy at the Ashland Middle School. Last year, AMS students took the Kentucky state championship and this year, they are in the finals again. But they aren’t the only ones, the original Samsung winners are now all at the high school together again, and they have also been given one of the top spots as a Kentucky state finalist.

   Both teams submitted more than one idea, but the project that was accepted for both schools were ideas on how to help those with disabilities. The middle school team is going to work on how to quickly evacuate a student with mobility issues from the Ashland Middle School in the case of an emergency. The high school team is trying to figure out how to help amputees with the pain that can sometimes be caused by using prosthetics.

   Ashland Middle School students Cavin Fitzpatrick, Ryan Runyon, Aubrey McCreary, and Samuel Tibbitts have based their project on the idea of “No Child Left Behind.” In the case of a fire or other emergency, the elevator inside the school will shut down. Any student with a mobility issue is then stuck on whatever floor that they happen to be on.

   Ashland Paul Blazer students are working on something that can go over the “nub” of an amputee’s limb with a motor that vibrates against the skin. The idea is for the device to be adjustable and hands free. Aubree Hay explained that the idea is for it to “help them therapeutically” by relieving irritation. Some of the students on the Samsung project have family members who are amputees. Those students have said that all of their family members have needed the amputated limb to be “kneaded or massaged” according to Hay. The students are hoping to create something that can help them relieve that irritation.

   The Blazer students are hoping to help both new and long-term amputees. Hay said that they “have done some research and found out that the vibrations are supposed to help with healing from surgery.” The pupils are currently playing with different ideas of how they can create the device and also make it functional. The students are currently  researching, and are focusing on “reaching out to occupational therapists and to the VA because they have a lot of amputees,” They want to make the device hands free and are playing around with different ideas of how to make that happen, including Velcro straps to wrap around the remaining limbs.

   Abby Meek shared that they also have a part two to their project. They want to create different prosthetic attachments for the limbs. One of the team members has a grandmother with a prosthetic arm who wants to pet her dog. Meek said that they want to create a sort brush attachment so that she can groom her dog. Eric Billups said that they will use 3-D printing for their initial prototypes for the attachments and then “look into legitimate materials” for construction.

   The Ashland Middle School students are also looking at 3-D printing for their prototypes. They are bouncing around ideas of how to make an attachment for a wheelchair to be able to get it down a set of steps quickly. They are also looking at ways for students to help another student with a mobility impairment to repel down the steps and get to safety. They would ideally like to be able to help the student repel down the steps while still in their wheelchair.

   The AMS students also have a second part to their project. They want to develop an app that will help them find a mobility impaired student within a few seconds, no matter where they are in the building. There is currently one student attending AMS that is permanently dependent on a wheelchair but Leistner said that due to injuries, there can be up to 20 or more students in the school using crutches or other devices at any given time. In case of an emergency, the app would show staff where those students are so that they could be quickly included in an evacuation plan.

   STLP teacher, John Leistner said that all of the students have really been “brainstorming outside the box” on how to make their ideas a reality. All of the students will come back after Thanksgiving break and start meeting with people in the community to come up with an activity plan. The activity plan is due on December 4 and will determine if either team will be chosen as the state finalist.

   This is the 10th anniversary of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. While there will only be one official finalist per state, there will be 50 “wild card” spots open. Those spots can come from any state. There is a possibility that the state of Kentucky could end up with two or more state champions this year. All of the students are hoping to see Kentucky have two state champions this year, and for both of those to come from right here in Ashland, Kentucky.