Article | Upton & Mendon Town Crier
Nipmuc Enters Competition with Covid Tracing App Design
November 06, 2020
Check out this article in the Upton & Mendon Town Crier (page 14) about Nipmuc Regional High School’s participation in the STEM Week Challenge!
By Scott Calzolaio
The pandemic has been and continues to be a learning experience, so why not use Covid to learn in the classroom too.
At Nipmuc Regional High School, students in James Gorman’s Engineering 2 class are doing just that, and entered a statewide competition with their work. Gorman’s seniors have been developing an app since the end of September to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Their proposal and design was submitted to Mass STEM Hub for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) week challenge. Results will be announced sometime in November. According to its website, Mass STEM Hub is a program of the One8 Foundation, which believes that an outstanding education should be available to all, regardless of zip code. Mass STEM Hub supports schools across the Commonwealth in high-quality implementation of proven STEM and applied learning programs.
“They’re pretty excited to see how they do,” Gorman said, referring to his students. “Their hope is that this app actually gets used.”
The winners of the competition go on to have a consultation with IMB app designers, and an opportunity to finish the project and see it go live. Last year, Nipmuc won the competition for their electronic recycling program, and students were given a consultation with Dell.
“What they really liked about it was learning about the hardships and the complications in the numbers,” said Gorman. “Like 40 percent of adults suffer from mental illness because of Covid.”
The students brainstormed questions like, how do you deal with problems like mental illness due to Covid? and what problems do they then lead to? Adding features like symptom tracking, and direct helplines to mental health professionals through the app were part of the learning process.
“There was a lot of cool stuff they were learning about,” he said. “Thinking through the real life problem solving that they really haven’t had to do themselves was really interesting for them.”
Gorman mentioned one, usually quiet, student whose enthusiasm touched on the reason he adores projects like this.
“It’s about trying to reach these kids through some method other than ‘here’s a book,’ let’s go learn,’” Gorman said. “Putting their skills to use in something practical is what the students want.”
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