Franklin students recognized for innovation

A desk was on display at Monday’s Franklin School Board meeting.

But it wasn’t just any desk.

It was an adjustable desk designed by four Franklin High School students for a regional science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition.

With the desk as their entry, the students won second place in the Regional PA Governor’s STEM Competition that was recently held at Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 in Clarion.

High school gifted education teacher Tim Heffernan and gifted students Trevor Wood, Kiaran Rios, JC Teslovich and Amy Mook discussed the competition and demonstrated the desk to board members.

Heffernan said the competition was the culminating event of a three-month project that included research into STEM-related careers.

“This is the first thing on this scale I’ve been involved with,” he said, and indicated that such a project “takes a village.”

He cited support by the district administrators, the business office, parents, teachers and others.

“This was a lot more than an intellectual assignment,” he said. “They also learned some life skills and leadership skills.”

The teams in the competition were given a $500 budget and challenged to design and build the prototype of a device or project capable of improving the quality of life for Pennsylvania residents.

Mook said the students were inspired by an Intermediate Unit class located near Heffernan’s classroom at the high school.

“We could see all the adaptations required,” she said and spoke of tables of various sizes needed to accommodate students in wheelchairs.

“Our original idea was a table that could adapt to them, that could change height,” she said.

The students also envisioned a variety of “inserts” for the table to meet a range of needs.

The insert developed for the desk prototype was a device to hold an electronic tablet.

The desk, Mook said, could be used to meet the specific needs of “children, adults, elderly people – anybody.”

Wood explained that devices similar to “electric car jacks,” concealed within the PVC pipes forming the legs of the desk, permit the desk to be adjusted up and down within a 12-inch range.

Rios discussed the desk’s electrical system, which includes a three-way switch that runs off a 12-volt battery.

Teslovich said that, had the team won first place in the competition, the members would have received $750 to expand upon and improve their design.

The team had some improvements in mind, just in case, including making the desk more ergonomic, improving its looks and modifying the switch to a low-profile rocker switch, he said.

Teslovich thanked Joy Manufacturing, which provided mentors for the project and hosted the students for a day and demonstrated STEM principles.

“I feel like we learned so much just being there,” he said.

Other matters

The board approved a number of items Monday including:

— The 2014-15 independent audit report submitted at the January work session by McGill, Power, Bell and Associates of Franklin. The audit resulted in a clean, unqualified opinion, indicating the financial statements fairly represent the district’s finances. The document was on public display for 30 days, and the district received no comments.

— A memorandum of understanding with the Franklin Local #2 Educational Support Personnel Association that will permit members to be paid for unused sick days when they retire. The retirees were previously required to put the funds in an individual retirement account.

— The district’s 2016-17 school calendar

Under the calendar, the first day of school for students will be Aug. 30 and the last day of the school year is June 2.

— The high school’s summer school program, which is scheduled to run from June 7 to 22

The program includes 12-day classes in social studies, English, mathematics, science and physical education and six-day classes in physical education, drivers education and social studies for Venango Technology Center students. The course offerings are contingent upon enrollment. The cost is $100 for a 12-day course and $75 for a six-day course.

— An agreement with Community Ambulance Service Inc. for the agency to provide transportation as needed for students in wheelchairs, at a rate of $20 per one-way trip. The board also approved a list of seven Community Ambulance drivers who will provide the transportation.

— A field trip request for the senior trip to Sandusky and Cleveland, Ohio, on May 31 and June 1

The trip will include a day at Cedar Point and visits on the second day to the Hard Rock Cafe and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

— A field trip request for the softball team to travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from March 21 to 26 for spring training was removed from the agenda at the request of the coach.

— In personnel matters, the board approved the employment of Pamela Horn as a personal care aide in first grade at Sandycreek Elementary School.