Ponus Ridge students win STEM contest with idea to protect foster kids

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Students at Ponus Ridge Middle School won a national STEM competition with an idea that hits home, helping foster kids by measuring their heart rate.

"If they have a heart rate increase because they're being abused or if they're in a dark area for an extended amount of time, like locked in a closet – both these would trigger a signal to go to the social worker,” said teacher Jenn Nealon. “The social worker and the police department can actually come back and find out what's actually going on with the child.”

The idea came from student Emerard Charles, who was once a foster kid himself. Charles said that he came from a good foster home, but knows that many are not as lucky as him.

“It could potentially change how they view their childhood, because a lot of foster kids, they look back at their childhood and don’t smile,” he said.

Now that his school is the state winner of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, $15,000 worth of technology and classroom supplies is heading its way, with more prizes up for grabs as the team advances. The next step could see them planning and pitching an idea to members of Congress.

Nealon told News 12 that these types of projects show kids where they fit in.

“Kids can actually solve problems,” Nealon said. “It doesn’t take an adult.”

 

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