Real life, real learning for IHS engineering class

IHS engineering class designs device for pool fix
Posted on 03/22/2019

A simple conversation about a recurring issue with the electrical system beneath the starting blocks at Irondequoit High School's pool turned into a terrific educational opportunity for Mr. Dave Marshall’s Principles of Engineering class.

The problem: Dirt and water would regularly get into plugs or holes in the Deck Plates for the starting system in each lane, causing it to malfunction during swim meets. So Marshall’s 26 students split into six groups. They inspected the Deck Plates in late October and were tasked with designing a cover.

“It was perfect timing, showing our kids how to work as a team, take everyone’s ideas and blend them into one. We used the decision matrix to do that,” recalled Marshall, a technology teacher who was recently honored for teaching at IHS for 25 years.

The ripple that started the 4½-month project was a conversation between Recreation Supervisor Rachel Schmidt, who handles pool scheduling, and Community Education Director Barb Reardon. Schmidt told Reardon about the touchpad problem and Reardon suggested giving Marshall and his students a shot at fixing it.

Each group presented device designs to a panel of adults (Marshall and colleagues) by mid-November, and three groups were chosen to move on to the prototype stage. All three designs were tested at the pool in January and the best one was produced and installed in early March.

The four students on the “winning” team: seniors Abby Levin and Anthony Ha and juniors Taylan Getiren and Chris Marley.

“It helps (us) see that if you want to go (into) the engineering field what you have to go through – all the steps of ideas, all the people’s ideas that you have to go through and funnel through for the best ones,” said Getiren, who called it fixing a “real world problem.”

Ten covers were made; eight for each pool lane and two for the starter system.

The design initially had sharp edges, but that was refined so they’re smooth. The cover is made of plastic and affixed with superglue and magnets (not hinges). “It’s simple but it performs the task,” Marshall said. “Now the dirt that used to get in doesn’t.”

Having the design, production and installation of the new covers done in-house, coupled with future savings on repairs/maintenance, should save the West Irondequoit Central School District thousands of dollars.

“It’s problem-solving. It’s opportunity. It’s great,” said James Brennan, WICSD’s Assistant Superintendent for Finance and a former physics teacher. “Our kids saw the problem and engineered a solution.”

It gave them a sense of pride, too.

“I can walk into the Irondequoit pool (years from now) and be like, ‘I was a part of that,’ ” said Ha, one of the senior students who’ll soon graduate.

-- Jeff DiVeronica | WICSD Director of Public Information