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Contact: Karen Lightell, 412-281-2345 School Phone: 201-843-7050 x 246


Saddle Brook Students Recognized in National Competitio

Students Connect Coaches with Deaf Players Using IllumaCoach

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28 -- Bright ideas, solid research and teamwork won three Saddle Brook 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.

When a friend was unable to participate in sports activities due to a temporary hearing loss, Shannon Fitzgerald, Kara Naegely and Linda Terminiello were inspired to find a way to assist deaf children to compete in their favorite sports activities. "Many health organizations state that their mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. Our mission is to do the same for deaf children," says Naegely.

Although the team found that devices do exist to assist deaf hockey players and swimmers, they found that no such device existed for deaf soccer players. So the team, coached by their teacher Marilyn Hamot Ryan, created a device that would allow soccer coaches to communicate with their players using vibrations and colored lights. Dubbed the IllumaCoach, the team tested the device on local deaf children with resounding success.

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 9, which includes District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and West 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.