Local high schoolers recognized for innovative 'Smart Mask' idea

A local high school is gaining national attention for an innovative idea to help their community and others in the event of a wildfire.

Wildfire season can have a big impact on folks in the foothills and air quality can pose a problem.

So the Chawanakee Academy robotics class came up with the concept of a 'Smart Mask'.

"We had this grand idea of an Iron Man mask - how exactly do we break that down into something workable and feasible? So the entire group did research," says 11th grader Michael Matheson.

They've been working on the project since late November as part of the 'Samsung Solve for Tomorrow' contest.

In this contest, a classroom works on solving a community problem using science, technology, engineering and math, better known as STEM.

The prototype of their creation, this mask, will help local residents during fire season.

"The electronic part of it is going to be basic sensors that detect gases and smoke," says Matheson.

"What I'm trying to do is get that hooked up to the mask and get it displaying the amounts of gas and stuff in the air so people will know when to put on their masks and when to take them off," says another 11th grader, Patrick Ryan.

Their idea has been chosen as one of the top six in the state.

Now they're up against schools from across the country, trying to make their product stand out.

"We wanted to have a design and interchangeable way so people don't have this clunky thing, they want to look nice," says 12th grader Cassidy Smart.

"This technology, if it can be made low-cost and distributed to schools and businesses, could greatly increase the well-being of our community."

The top 5 teams in the country will present their ideas in Washington, D.C. to congressional members and win $100,000 in Samsung technology for their school.
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