Sample Entries: Sample 3


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Multi-Sensory Fire Alarm to Wake Up Kids Fast

Coach: Robert M. London
Community: Stoughton, Wisconsin
Status Achieved: Gold Medal Award-Winner

Section 1: The Issue

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 years old and teenagers 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.

Section 2: Research

The team set out to learn as much as it could about existing home fire alarm systems to determine how they work and why they frequently fail to wake sleeping children. In the course of their study, the students conferred with safety experts and fire alarm designers and manufacturers, and also tested a variety of alarm systems that supplement sound with water jets, flashing lights, moving objects and other means. Based on their findings, the team developed a prototype alarm system known as PAKA (Personal Aquatic Kids Alert system) the Giraffe, which incorporates voice, light and water in a stuffed animal to fully rouse a sleeping child in the event of a fire.

Section 3: Testing

The team conducted two tests of the PAKA prototype. The first test, conducted with six teens and preteens, was designed to determine if a water spray could be used as an effective wake-up stimulus. The second test, conducted with four teens, compared the wake-up times for water spray versus voice alarm. The results demonstrated that water jets had the most immediate impact, causing the subjects to wake up, jump up and jump out of bed up to ten times faster than the basic fire alarm sound alone. The team ultimately decided to combine the water jets with a voice alarm that directs the child safely out of a room.

Section 4: The Solution

Children often are not stimulated enough by the sound of a standard fire alarm to not only wake up but also to get up and exit a room. By supplementing sound with other sensory stimuli, including touch (water) and sight (light), and combining them in a kid-friendly stuffed animal, the team created a tool with the potential to reduce fire-related injuries in children.

Visual Presentation: