Education


Newtown High School Project Earns Award At Skills21 Expo Fest

Published: June 02, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Newtown Middle School eighth grader Sam Staubly, left, and Newtown High School senior Zachary Demeglio hold the first place "A Close Look" Computer Science Challenge award at the Skills21 Expo Fest on May 19.
Newtown Middle School eighth grader Sam Staubly, left, and Newtown High School senior Zachary Demeglio hold the first place "A Close Look" Computer Science Challenge award at the Skills21 Expo Fest on May 19.
Newtown High School senior Zachary Demeglio and Newtown Middle School eighth grader Sam Staubly represented a group of students who worked after school on a project at the Skills21 Expo Fest at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on May 19. The project earned a first place award at the event.

The EdAdvance program, according to its website, skills21.org/expofest, offers a chance for students to showcase "innovative, cross-curricular products, services, community actions, digital media, and film programs."

The group of students had been working since January, under the direction of NHS computer technology teacher Kristin Violette, to create both an app and a piece of wearable technology to share at the Expo Fest. Newtown High School Interim Principal David Roach said the school supported the student effort, but the event ended up following the May 15 storm that left the area without power. Newtown schools were closed from May 16 to 21 due to the storm. Mr Roach said Zachary and Sam opted to attend the Expo Fest on their own.

"I'm very proud of the hard work they put in," Mr Roach said, following the Expo Fest.
In January, the students decided what project to create. The group decided to create an app that would allow students and parents to monitor where their school bus is on its route. The group used Arduino kits to create the wearable technology piece of the project. According to Ms Violette, the group also created a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader for buses that would work with the individual wearable devices. The app the group designed interacts with both pieces of technology to then share information about where the bus is in relation to the student or parent using the wearable device.

According to Zachary, he worked on the app and integrated the use of the Arduino kits, Sam worked with the Arduino kits to create the RFID reader for a bus and the wearable device, NHS sophomore Kyle Shelton worked the group's social media and website, and NHS sophomore Maddie Rooney worked on the group's social media, survey, and more. Sam has also acted as the group's Arduino expert throughout the process, mentoring the high school students who were unfamiliar with the kits. The NHS group explained its efforts on the assignment on a website created as part of the project.

The full Skills21 Expo Fest ran from May 19 to 20. As the representatives of Newtown's project, Zach and Sam had to present the project for judges. They had not prepared for it, but the storm changed those plans.

According to Ms Violette, the project won the first place award for the event's "A Closer Look" Computer Science Challenge. "A Closer Look," Ms Violette explained, was the theme for the challenge.

"It is so inspiring to just see the love of learning," said Ms Violette, when reflecting on what it was like to watch the students throughout the course of the after school project.
After attending the Expo Fest, Zachary said he enjoyed learning about making wearable devices and apps. Getting involved with the after-school project was the perfect way to learn about those areas of interest, he said.

Sam said on May 25 that attending the Expo Fest was "really fun."

"We worked so hard on the project, it was nice to get to show it off for people," said Sam.

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