River Bluff Middle School Students are Gold Medal Winners
in National Science Competition at Walt Disney World

Students Developed Stuffed Giraffe with Water Jets to
Wake Children from a Deep Sleep During a Fire


ORLANDO, FL—June 24, 2005—A group of students from River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton, WI, have been named Gold Medal Winners in the Christopher Columbus Awards, a national competition that challenges middle-school students to use science and technology to solve pressing issues in their communities. Seventh-graders Tucker Peterson, Ryan Walker, Jacob Fendrick and Ben London, and their coach, Robert London, competed against more than 1,100 students nationwide.

Every year, more than 3,500 people are killed and another 18,500 are injured in residential fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children younger than five are at the greatest risk in these fires, often because their deep sleep patterns prevent them from hearing the sound of a smoke alarm in time to get out safely.

The River Bluff students decided to take action to reduce or eliminate this risk and tested a variety of other 'alarms' to supplement sound, including water jets, flashing lights and moving objects. After extensive testing with children and teenagers, they found that water jets, squirting from a stuffed giraffe, had the most immediate impact, causing the kids to wake up, jump up and jump out of bed up to ten times faster than the basic fire alarm sound alone. They decided to combine the water jets with a voice alarm that directs that child out of the room safely.

Team Photo

Gold Medal Award Winners, "Multi-Sensory Fire Alarm" — Stoughton, WI.
Left to right: Coach Robert London, Ryan Walker, Tucker Peterson,
Ben London and Jacob Fendrick and .

Team Wins a Trip to Walt Disney World

The team won an all-expense-paid trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, where they competed against seven other finalist teams from around the country as part of the Christopher Columbus Awards' National Championship Week. They also participated in the Christopher Columbus Academy, a custom-designed educational program conducted by scientists, engineers and educators to give the students a hands-on look at the science behind innovation such as the thrills of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Each member of the team will receive a $2,000 U.S. Savings Bond.

Positive Community Change

The Christopher Columbus Awards challenge teams of middle-school students to explore and discover opportunities for positive change in their communities using science and technology. The program is now in its ninth year and has attracted nearly 13,000 students from diverse backgrounds all across the U.S. The program is sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation (www.columbusfdn.org) with support from the National Science Foundation and it is endorsed by the National Middle School Association. Past winners have included a group of Native American girls who built a study hall out of straw on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, and a group of students from Pennsylvania who developed a video/motion sensor and camera for school buses that deters motorists from trying to pass illegally.

Strong Participation from Girls, Minorities

The program attracts many students who may not typically enter a science competition. More than half of the entrants are girls, and more than a fourth are from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, statistics that are higher than those of most science competitions. The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation believes the teamwork aspect and community focus draw a broader range of students to enter.

For more information on the Christopher Columbus Awards, call 1-800-291-6020 or visit www.christophercolumbusawards.com.