FRMINGTON – Three second graders at W.G. Mallett School have won the regional title in the 30th annual Toshiba Exploravision Science Fair for their “Spider Plant CO2 Collector” invention.
The trio — Ronnie Yao, Lucy Perry, and Claire Keijer — are now vying to win Kindergarten with the third-grade national title.
Their introduction is an invention that uses spider plants to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from cars.
The Exploravision Science Competition, facilitated by Toshiba, challenges students “to participate in solving real-world problems with a strong focus on STEM” [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] … envision and communicate new technology 10 or more years into the future through collaborative ideas exchange and research in current science and technology.”
Yao, Berry, and Keijer invented the spider plant assembly with the help of trainer Sue Boyce Cormier.
Boyce Cormier said the group of second-graders thought outside the box the idea of tackling climate change in their project. She said the topic of climate change and greenhouse gases was Yao’s idea.
“[Yau] sell the [topic] Boyce Cormier said.
After confining the problem to cars and exhausts, the team began their search to find “technology that does not exist,” said Boyce-Cormier. They discovered that the spider plant is a species that can remove carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from the air.
Their vision was a spider plant inside a glass jar running on the car’s muffler to suck up the exhaust.
They create the prototype, write a report and create fake web pages to sell the product.
The team is also tasked with uncovering why this type of technology doesn’t exist yet, and what obstacles it faces.
In this case, the kids figured out that the invention would need a glass that “doesn’t break when you’re back [a car] Boyce Cormier said.
She believes this was a special group of kids, the right kind of group with the passion needed to go far in the competition.
Boyce Cormier said she was excited to tell the kids that they won the regional title because it was unexpected.
“It was one of the highlights of my life to tell them,” she said.
Boyce-Cormier has been facilitating projects in the Exploravision competition for 15 years and this is the first time she’s seen a team go this far.
“It’s very rewarding, especially with the young ones because they don’t get the awards that the older kids do. I also really want to instill in them that trying really hard and working on something academic is worth it.”
She appreciated the team and all the young children she trained during this competition for their ability to think creatively and freely.
“It has nothing to do with him [how innovative a project is]. “It has to do with the fact that young children are free to think,” said Boyce Cormier. “Often, we crush [children’s creativity]is not it? So this gives them a chance to really think outside the box…and I think they’ll get a lot out of just knowing they’ve done a really good job at something they’ve worked really hard on.”
Boyce-Cormier is proud to return this win to the Provincial Unit 9 community and to highlight “the importance of the Gifted and Talented Program.” [that] It gives creative children an opportunity to express themselves in a positive way.”
“It’s a pretty big deal for Farmington, Maine,” she said.
Among the Northeast American competitors, Yau, Perry and Kiger each won a Chromebook “to support the development of virtual posters, website and videos for the national stage of the competition,” according to a statement from Toshiba.
W.G. Mallett School is also home to another team that has earned an honorable mention for their “Hive Tracker” focused on bees.
The winning trio will now go on to speculate against winners from five other regions for the national title, where they stand a chance of winning a $10,000 savings bond. Toshiba is scheduled to announce the winners on May 6.