Nolan Middle School students win state TSA title again

eearl@bradenton.comMarch 18, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Nolan Middle School students took home the state title and trophy at the state Technology Student Association competition in Orlando, which ended Friday.

Nolan sent 39 students to compete in team and individual events against schools from around the state March 13-16.

Nolan students won first place overall in the middle school division.

TSA competitions are centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as well as organizational leadership.

Students competed in 30 different events that revolved around engineering, public speaking, graphic design, and parliamentary procedure, said TSA instructor Justin Devine.

"Students show their understanding of increasing proficiency within an organization or large mass of people," Devine said. "Their understanding of both STEM and leadership translates together at the competitions."

Events include technical design, 3D modeling, and robotics.

This is the fourth year in a row that Nolan Middle School students have earned the first-place state title.

"It is important to the students, and winning has become a tradition that they want to continue. It drives them," Devine said.

In addition to the state title and individual event trophies, four Nolan students worked together to win the coveted Invention and Innovation Award. The award is given

to only one school's team by Integrated STEM Instructional Systems LLC.

Seventh-graders Alex Long, Tim Ackaway and Travis Earp and eighth-grader Rachel Towe shared the glory and the $300 prize.

They came up with a safety system to prevent parents or nannies from leaving babies in their car seats. The product would detect a baby left in a car seat when the car's engine is off through a pressure reader. It would then alert the vehicle owner through a radio frequency chip that would be registered upon purchase.

The car could be programed to sound an alarm, roll the windows down slightly, and turn on the air conditioning to alert the parent while keeping the baby comfortable.

The group was inspired after observing statistics of how many infants are injured due to being left in the car.

Ackaway said he and his team would like to expand the concept into a prototype, and that he could also see the product sending text and calls to the parent.

Devine said that any school, regardless of place, can go to nationals, but Nolan Middle Schools TSA students are exceptionally ready. They will be returning to Orlando in June to compete in the national conference against schools across America as well as participating schools from Germany and Turkey.

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