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Contact: Karen Lightell, 412-281-2345 School Phone: 919-387-3033


Apex Students Recognized in National Competitio

Local Team Invents Toothbrush to Keep Kids with Braces Smiling

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28 -- Bright ideas, solid research and teamwork won four Davis Drive Middle School students a berth as semifinalists in the Bayer/National Science Foundation Award, a nationwide program that challenges students to use science and technology to develop solutions to community issues.

It was as easy as looking at each otherís smiles for Laura Meyer, Anne Tomasevich, Christine Hackett and Kyle Butler to come up with the problem they wanted to solve. "From experience, we have found that it can be very embarrassing to be talking to someone with food in your braces" says Hackett, "we want it to be easier for teens and adults alike to be able to keep their teeth clean when they have braces, and avoid any humiliating times."

The team, coached by teacher Christine Balga, developed a prototype for the "perfect" toothbrush for people with braces. After studying bristle patterns, head shapes and current toothbrush designs, the team created several models especially made for cleaning behind wires and in the nooks and crannies created by brackets. When the team tested their designs, they found the "Clean Smiler" cleaned teeth better than the competition, and was still gentle on the gums and easy to handle.

The team began work on its project last fall and submitted a written and visual presentation to Bayer/NSF Award. A panel of community leaders, scientists and experts in science education judged it one of the top three entries in Region 8, which includes Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Nearly 2000 students participated nationwide.

A Chance to Compete at Walt Disney World®

On April 17, 10 of the 30 semifinalist teams will be named winners of an all-expense-paid trip to the Walt Disney World® Resort, where they will compete in the Bayer/NSF Award's National Championship, June 22-28.

Rewards include $36,000 in US savings bonds for the top three national winners. In addition, one team will bring home the $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant to help bring its idea to life in the community.

The finalists also will attend the Christopher Columbus Academy, a custom-designed educational program. Conducted by scientists, engineers and educators, the program reveals the science and technology behind the thrills and excitement of Epcot® and the Magic Kingdom®.

Real-Life Experience with Science and Technology

Sponsored by the Bayer Corporation, as part of its Making Science Make Sense program, the National Science Foundation and the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, the Bayer/NSF Award is turning kids on to science. Its cross-curricular, team-oriented, inquiry-based, real-life approach to science education attracts kids of all interests and ability levels. The program premiered in 1996 and is endorsed by the National Middle School Association.