Seniors present innovative products as capstone

Seniors in Blaine High School’s Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science presented their capstone projects Feb. 27.

Seniors in Blaine High School’s Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science presented their capstone projects Feb. 27. Nicole Hokkanen, a member of 5X Locks, demonstrates her group’s project – a card-reader lock system for school lockers. Photos by Olivia Koester

Seniors in Blaine High School’s Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science presented their capstone projects Feb. 27. Nicole Hokkanen, a member of 5X Locks, demonstrates her group’s project – a card-reader lock system for school lockers. Photos by Olivia Koester

Students began work on the projects 10 months ago, teaming up to form groups of three to five people last spring.

Last week’s presentation showcased innovative products the students imagined, designed and built during a two-trimester course called CEMS research.

Students’ products aimed to solve problems not adequately addressed by current products on the market.

The capstone project asks for community involvement as students find and select professional mentors who can guide them through the processes required to make their ideas come alive.

One group might benefit from the guidance of an electrical engineer working in the Twin Cities; another might seek out a computer programmer to help them implement their ideas.

Mentors “help mold their minds and show them what the engineering process really looks like,” said Jeff Fedor, one of the CEMS research teachers at Blaine High School.  Many mentors were in the audience Feb. 27 when 19 groups presented their efforts.

Several groups strived to create environmentally-friendly products.

The Green Pigeons – Adam Gapen, Aaron Jackson, Greg Nelson, Andrew Ruff and Anna Wright – discovered that clay pigeons are not very environmentally-friendly. Even pigeons marketed as “green” affect the acidity of the soil, killing vegetation.

The Green Pigeons used a variety of molds and recipes to find success. If the group had more time, it would try to be more efficient, baking more than one pigeon each day, members said.

Project Popcorn – Jordan Anderson, Moon Baum, Haley Castle and Haley Wayne – used CEMS’s 3D printer to create a prototype of the Snack Pack 5000, a container that allows movie-goers to easily manage candy, popcorn and soda.

Currently, movie theaters do not recycle any waste, so this reusable product would lower the number of containers thrown out after each show, the group said.

All 19 groups that presented were available to answer questions in the cafeteria after the program. Steven Cherucheril readies his group’s project for people to test. His group, Elevate, designed a chair for people who experience joint pain in their knees.

All 19 groups that presented were available to answer questions in the cafeteria after the program. Steven Cherucheril readies his group’s project for people to test. His group, Elevate, designed a chair for people who experience joint pain in their knees.

Project Popcorn had a detailed business plan, which it ran by its mentor, the manager of the AMC Showplace theater in Coon Rapids. Movie theaters would sell the Snack Pack 5000, and customers who returned to refill it would receive a discount on future concessions purchases.

The product would benefit everyone – the environment, customers and the theater, the group said.

When Sam Legierski was picking up trash alongside a busy highway, a semi drove by and the gust of wind it produced nearly knocked him off of his feet. His first thought was something along the lines of “Why aren’t we harnessing the wind energy coming off of that truck?” and a project was born.

The Turbines – Legierski, Cody Deluce and Nathaniel Molitor – built a small turbine to place near busy highways.

The boys tracked how much wind a car, SUV and truck generated at different speeds and happened to catch a semi as it drove by. It generated wind speeds of nearly 30 mph. A truck generated 15 mph winds traveling at 60 mph.

These high-speed winds could power stop lights, street lights and rest stops, the group decided.

Group members are so excited about their work that they want to patent the product and build a business someday.

Many groups focused their products on medical issues.

Elevate – Alex Copa, Steven Cherucheril, Alec Kalbow, Amanda Schwengler and Jackson Wehr – designed a chair for people with joint pain in their knees. There are chairs already on the market for this particular segment of the population, but they are expensive and heavy, the group determined.

Each group in the class is authorized to spend up to $500, and Elevate used some of its budget to purchased a chair, welding on handles and installing a cylinder to allow those with joint pain to ease back into a sitting position.

CPR is often administered in a time of great stress. To prevent added stress, Life Counters – Jeloni Hudson, Taylor Kelson, Rodney Williams and Logan Woessner – created a watch that provides the person performing CPR with the appropriate speed at which to administer it.

Nathaniel Molitor further explains The Turbines’ vision. The group set out to build a small turbine to harness wind energy coming off of large trucks and semis.

Nathaniel Molitor further explains The Turbines’ vision. The group set out to build a small turbine to harness wind energy coming off of large trucks and semis.

“We procrastinated a lot,” Hudson said. Many groups made similar statements.

Mattilan Martin was on crutches and experienced their inconvenience first hand, as did Lean on Me team members Allen Bergstedt, Judson Stangler, Austin Van Tassel and Jack Ziegler when they carried her books, she said.

The team engineered a crutch that wrapped around the leg so to avoid the bulkiness of regular crutches and possible nerve damage under the arms.

Students wired cameras to catch criminals and care for kids.

The Postmasters – Megan Connolly, Charles Cummings, Matthew Dereck and Jordan Gunerius – rewired a camera and installed it in a mailbox to catch thieves attempting identity theft.

Spy Kids – Sarah Fix, Lauren Johnson, Rebecca Johnson, Brandon Reshetar and Cheyenne Unis – created a discreet robot for law enforcement to use in emergency situations. Members had some experience in robotics after using ROBO Pro Software sophomore year.

“They really take all the skills that they’ve learned in all their various engineering courses and kind of put it all together … and then they get the real-life experience of working in a team,” said Jenny Birkmeier, curriculum integration coordinator for CEMS.

Some groups cited teamwork as a difficulty, but ABC’s – Christoph Brostrom, Alysha Davis, Beth Hammer and Alecia Vang – cultivated a harmonious partnership.

“We worked together quite well,” Hammer said. “We’re pretty much a family now.”

The members used common ground to come up with a project idea. They have all spent time watching children, and children are known to wander off. So, the group built a GPS backpack that a child could wear. When the child moved out of a programmed radius, an alarm would alert the parent or sitter, and he or she could pick up a video feed of the child’s location.

The group wanted to make its device a bracelet since it isn’t practical to have a child carrying a backpack everywhere. Also, the device should be battery-powered. As is, the group’s product had kids tied to an extension cord.

“What a bunch of fresh ideas tonight,” Blaine High School Principal John Phelps said toward the end of the evening. “Think about where these minds are going.”

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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