Wheatland Middle Schoolers Nab Science Competition

by Xavier Walton, xwalton@k2tv.com

For severe weather in Wyoming, it's not "if" its going to happen it's "when."  For four Wheatland middle schoolers it was a tornado's terrifying images that landed them in Washington D.C. for the 2014 U.S. Army Science Competition finals.

K2's Xavier Walton has our story.



Natural Sound
"Tornado sirens"

"It was very frightening," said Christian Hayden.

Twisters, mother nature's fury has been wreaking havoc across the nation.  Just this week nearby states like Nebraska and South Dakota were devastated.

"I was standing on my front porch and I was watching a tornado go by," said Christian Moody, Wheatland Middle School.

For these four Wheatland middle schoolers, feeling the power of a tornado just miles away inspired innovation, which came in the form of a project they entered in a national science competition.

Each year they say a tornado has hit nearby and when that happens teachers tell them.

"Grab a textbook and hunker down," said Christian Moody, Wheatland Middle School.

Not necessarily the safest scenario.  So how do four eighth graders come up with an idea to potentially save hundreds - maybe thousands.

It all started with this Lego model during lunch last October.

"If you can imagine these being the lockers, and these would be the handles.  Then you would pull this out and it would fall down and the students would enter right here," said Joey Madson, Wheatland Middle School.

Here's a virtual tour of what joey just described.  Lockers, arguably the most common item in schools, can sometimes be the most dangerous.  Once a siren sounds the ingenious device would deploy creating shelter and safety.

"The number one injury in tornadoes is caused by flying debris.  This would deflect that flying debris," said Madson.

After the initial prototype was done they put it to the test calling the fangled gizmo LS1, which simply stands for locker shelter 1.

"The hardest thing about is that we can't break it," said Jacob Stafford, Wheatland Middle School.

"We did flying debris test.  We did impact test and we did shaking vibration tests for seismic vibrations," said Haiden Moody.

LS1 tested through the roof superceding all expectations. It was indestructible. In fact the only damage came to the locker handles.

 "I was in awe that we were able to make this," said Madson.

"I'm very proud of what we've done and I do think this would be able to save kids," said Christian.

This project is bigger than Wheatland Middle School.  It has real world implications and companies are chomping at the bit.  The students have a patent attorney and are getting there product safety certification.

Oh and if you're wondering what happened in their 8th grade science competition.

Just take a look, they got 1st place and are bringing back hardware to the cowboy state.
And who knows, one day, these dreamers may even save your life.  In Casper I'm Xavier Walton K2 News.