Students’ concept for police assistance device wins honorable mention

  • Written by Mary Louise Van Dyke
  • Published in Local
Police Officer James Britt talks with St. Joseph students Sally Swanson, left, Emma Nisbet, and Esmé Campbell about their Police Assistance Device concept. Photo: Laura Laun Police Officer James Britt talks with St. Joseph students Sally Swanson, left, Emma Nisbet, and Esmé Campbell about their Police Assistance Device concept. Photo: Laura Laun

SEATTLE – Three students at St. Joseph School have won a national honorable mention for a conceptual device that could one day make police response safer for officers and the public.

Seventh-graders Emma Nisbet, Esmé Campbell and Sally Swanson entered their “Police Assistance Device” in the 2017 ExploraVision competition, which challenges students across the country to invent new technologies.

The St. Joe’s students envisioned using technologies such as terahertz light energy and artificial intelligence to improve today’s police body cameras that simply record situations. Adding artificial intelligence to the PAD, for example, could supply an officer with vital information about a suspect.

“Our vision is to ensure the safety of everyone involved in any incident,” the students wrote in their abstract for the competition. “We wanted to protect people, all types of people,” Nisbet said in an interview.

The effort began last fall during a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in Action class, one of several exploratory classes offered to seventh- and eighth-grade students at St. Joe’s. STEAM teacher Laura Laun guided 15 students as they worked in four teams to solve problems facing God’s creations. The teams brainstormed ideas for inventions that could benefit society in the future.

students work on science project
St. Joseph students Ben Roberts and Anne Mirkin constructed a lithium battery while developing their concept for an advanced graphene battery. Photo: Laura Laun

In developing their idea, Nisbet said, the team learned to think beyond today’s technology. Their research included talking with Seattle Police Department Sgt. James Britt, who reviewed the concept and gave them feedback on how the device could help on-duty officers.

After the STEAM class ended in December, two of the teams exhibited their inventions at a school event. The other two teams decided to enter the ExploraVision competition, using their lunch and recess times to meet the Feb. 6 deadline, Laun said.

The other ExploraVision team, consisting of seventh-grader Ben Roberts and eighth-grader Anne Mirkin, entered a project called “The Aluminum Graphene Battery and Beyond.” They envisioned an electric-car battery that would be lighter, stronger and safer than today’s power cells.

“Our objective was to create a new technology that would protect God’s creation,” Roberts said.

“I’m very proud of what Laura Laun’s accomplished and what students have brought to the table,” said Mary Helen Bever, St. Joe’s middle school director.