Spring Cove students Parker Gregg and Cayden Wright, who just finished eighth grade at Spring Cove Middle School, won first place the National Technology Student Association competition recently in Atlanta, Ga.
They placed first in the Innovation and Inventions category; their invention detects carbon monoxide in vehicles and shuts the car off if the level becomes lethal.
Parker, 14, had the idea after the death of his father.
“Last year, November 2017, my father passed away because he was in the car, closed in the garage, and the carbon monoxide killed him. I wanted to invent something to prevent that tragedy from happening again,” he said.
A few weeks after his father’s death, the school district had a spaghetti dinner to raise money for the family’s expenses. That’s when Parker turned to his mother, Brandy. She said he told her: “I have an idea. … What do you think?”
“I’m amazed at what they achieved,” she said.
Parker enlisted a classmate, Cayden, who was more familiar with technology, to help him work on the invention after school.
“I learned off of Cayden; he knows a lot about technology, that’s why I contacted him to help me build the prototype,” Parker said.
They made their product from scratch, ordering materials from the internet.
“We programmed it; we designed our own chips. We did all of the project at home and turned it into the Technology Student Association,” Parker said.
Their invention went through four iterations as they progressed through regional and eventually national competition.
The latest revision of “Air Alert” that won the national competition is composed of a printed circuit board incorporating MQ7 carbon monoxide sensors and wires that tap into the ignition fuse. The sensors cut off the 12 volts flowing to a spark plug, shutting down the car if carbon monoxide levels are lethal.
On June 24, the two students gave their presentation for judges at the national competition in Atlanta.
The soon-to-be ninth-graders arrived home on Tuesday to a welcoming party of the community.
Spring Cove Superintendent Betsy Baker said the district is very proud.
“Cayden and Parker have invested a lot of time and energy outside of school into this competition,”Baker said. “Their exceptional talent and passion for STEM education are very evident whenever they present their invention. Their success is well-deserved.”
Parker said he plans to research putting the device on the market for cars, homes, furnaces, generators and factories.
The students appreciated the community support throughout the competition.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Parker said. “I’m at a loss. I have no idea how we did it. And everyone supporting us just makes us so happy.”
Cayden, who’s been a member of the Technology Student Association in the past, said it’s rare to get past state competition.
“It feels good to win at the national level,” he said. “It was a great transformation.”
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.