CAMDEN, NJ—With school shootings dominating national headlines all too frequently, Woodrow Wilson junior Angel Rosado and three of his classmates wanted to come up with a way to prevent such a tragedy at their high school.
Enter Geoprotection Security, an alert system that using gunpowder sensors and motion detectors will immediately lock down a school and alert the authorities when a gun is within 150 feet of a school.
Rosado and his team, Jorge Salmeron, Dariana Rivera and Alex Mendez, presented the system they created to a gym full of scientists, engineers, educators and elected officials last Friday at the Camden City School District’s first every district-wide STEAM Fair.
“We were inspired because the United States has the highest rate of school shootings, and we know we are the next victims of it so we want to prevent that at the schools around Camden, and New Jersey, and the United States,” Angel said.
School security was also on the mind of a group of freshmen from Brimm Medical Arts High School, who created a self-driving security camera robot that used facial recognition software to patrol its school's hallways.
"If we were to use this, maybe it would increase the school security and make people feel more safe and decrease the amount of incidents that happen," Johnson Le, a member of the team, said.
With a theme of “STEAM in My Life,” students in grades 2 through 12 were tasked with finding solutions to the everyday problems they face at home and in their community using the elements of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“The projects are projects that students can really do to change things in their lives here in the City of Camden, like how can we work with growing plants, floods, gun violence, drugs and alcohol,” Lynne Price-Jones, senior lead educator for math in grades K through 5, said.
Throughout the year, each school holds school-wide STEAM fests. However on Friday, the gym at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy was filled with the best of the best.
At stake was not only recognition for hard work and ingenuity, but also prizes donated from local business like Holtec International, Covanta Energy and UBTech.
“It’s something to aspire to ... it's something they can obtain,” said Janel Williams, senior lead educator of math and science for high school students. “They also get exposed to community partners like Holtec, Subaru, so this is big.”
While the middle school and high school students presented their projects, which ranged from an aquaponic tower garden, to a security robot that used facial recognition software, to a dissected cat — the students in grades two through five were more focused on computer science and coding.
“They could either create cell phone projectors out of recycled materials or form a team of coders and incorporate all the aspects of STEAM,” Tonya Wilson, director of instructional technology, said.
“Our focus on coding to expose all of our youth to it. In the workforce right now, that is something that is a big area and we want to make sure our kids are aware of it and knowledgeable about it,” Wilson said.
Throughout the morning, the students faced questions and presented their projects to the judges, which included not only district teachers but also school board members, the county superintendent and employees from companies like Holtec and Subaru.
“And being a parent, how important it is to have your children exposed to mentors in these areas,” Williams said. “Just seeing someone in person that you can aspire to is amazing.”