High school students develop technology to encourage good driving behavior

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If the driver comes to a complete stop the stop sign rewards them with a surprise icon on the LED matrix.

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (WDVM) — They were supposed to be headed for New York City next week, but a group of Loudoun Valley High School STEM Club students are still competing as one of 20 finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

At the beginning of the school year, the team was presented with the challenge to solve a problem in their community. Alison Pike, Ryan Ebrahimi, and Jeffrey Polivka used 16 electric components and three different voltages to create a solar powered, weather resistant LED stop sign system that discourages rolling stops; ultimately preventing pedestrian fatalities. 

“As the driver slows the LED strips start turning off to match their speed,” said Ebrahimi. “Each LED strip corresponds to a five mile an hour decrease in speed. If the driver comes to a complete stop they’re rewarded with a surprise icon on the LED matrix.” 

The team wrote a system software that detects object motion, performs mathematical calculations for speed controls and stores that information in a micro SD card. The information can be uploaded to an interactive GIS map that community members and law enforcement can use to determine which stop signs are risky for pedestrians. Next Wednesday, the team will be presenting their project virtually to a panel of judges.

“That experience of them getting to present and sell their idea, similar to a Shark Tank model, is key to the kids. So I think they miss out on a little bit of the “ooh and ahh” portion of it but they’re really getting the essential parts,” said Jose Rodriguez, math and computer science teacher at Loudoun Valley High School and leader of the STEM Club. 

If they win, they’ll take home $100,000 in technology for their STEM program at school. 

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