From left to right: Tai Morgan, Luke Zawilla, Alex Nerney, Connor Stoltzfus, Noah Gates, Trent Jordan, Benjamin Seeberger, Richter Bogust, Sophia Jones and Mr. Zachary Potter.
Electricity–and a bit of nerves–filled the lobby of the Senior High last night as nine juniors and seniors in Mr. Zachary Potter’s Engineering Design course showcased and presented a semester’s worth of work to a panel of Exeter teachers and local professors from area colleges. Using items such as semiconductors and small, single-board computers, students spent this last semester engineering prototypes (or proof of concept) to solve a real-world societal, health or mental health problem. Their semester’s worth of research, data and built prototypes were then presented last night to the panel of educators, all of whom offered feedback and improvements–as well as praise–for each capstone project.
In small groups or pairs, students identified real-world problems at the beginning of the semester to solve through their research, design, ingenuity and creativity. To help prevent distracted driving, Trent Jordan, Benjamin Seeberger and Noah Gates engineered a tracker that could be installed into any car to record where a driver’s eyes are in the car. To help identify and prevent panic disorders, Luke Zawilla and Tai Morgan engineered a device to detect the onset of an attack through body temperature and perspiration levels. If the device detects a certain threshold for the onset of an attack, it then offers breathing and mindful exercises to help people calm themselves. To help prevent running injuries such as shin splints, Sophia Jones and Richter Bogust, who both compete on the track and field and cross country teams, engineered a biomechanical shoe insert that would help a person better understand their gait while running–such as if their foot was hitting the ground too far forward or backward or with too much force. To help people sleep better, Alex Nerney and Connor Stoltzfus engineered a sensor that detects and records light levels and temperatures.
Mr. Zachary Potter, who teaches the students in Engineering Design, believes that the course is a unique offering at the Senior High. “This is an experience that I believe is second-to-none at Exeter,” he said, expressing pride in his students’ capstone projects and presentations. “This course gives students the opportunity to experience the entire process of identifying a problem, and working through the design process to create a potential solution, and then an opportunity to present their work to the judges.” Further, he says that the semester-long capstone project, as well as other STEM courses at the Senior High truly allow students to prepare for the pursuit of an engineering or technical degree after graduation. “I have been doing this long enough now to have lots of alumni from our program come back and tell me how much this experience, and the others we provide as part of our STEM Pathway, have benefited them,” he said. “I have definitely had a lot of positive feedback from alumni in the last few years about the benefits of our program and how much the experiences we offer help our students at the next level. So many of our students are shocked to learn that the vast majority of their peers at the next level have not had the same experiences that we offer at Exeter.”