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Local students win prestigious science competition


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor

  The next big invention in science might get its start right here in Henry County if three elementary school students have anything to say about it. Third graders Torrie Hardy, Jr., from Bethlehem Elementary and Jordan Hodge and Alec Jackson from Flippen Elementary School, received word last week that they were the Regional Winners in the 2013 Toshiba/NSTA Exploravision Program. They will represent their region, which includes Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the national competition against six other teams in their age division.

Three local students were the Regional winners of the Tohiba/NSTA Exploravision Program. Pictured l. to r. back row: Cary Butler with Toshiba America Business Solutions, Dr. Cara Jackson, mentor, Flippen Elementary principal Toni Obeneuf, teacher Christy Collier and coach Julie Allen; front row: Jordan Hodge, Torrie Hardy, Jr. and Alec Jackson.

Photo by Melissa Robinson

  The three students entered the contest with the idea for the VoicetoVoice Translator Earpiece —an invention they came up with that would make it easier for students who speak different languages to communicate by automatically translating the audio signals between speakers so they would be able to understand each other.

  Mentor and mom, Dr. Cara Jackson, said she initially started the group last year as a way for her children to gain an interest in science. This year she mentored five groups in different age brackets and two of the student groups received honorable mentions and the youngest was the regional winner. For winning, all three boys received a camcorder and the group received a laptop to be donated to the elementary school.

  The boys brainstormed to find a project and after interviewing friends and family members, the three students came up with the idea after Torrie told about a transfer student in his class who only spoke Spanish. The students said they realized that an invention to help that student could help others as well.

  “It can help doctors, firemen, police, travelers and business people,” said Alec.

  Although the three friends all like science, for Alec and Jordan, their favorite subject is math, however their real career will be to play professional football. As for Torrie, his favorite subjects are science and math, and said he has several careers in mind.

  “I have a few things I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a pilot, or a doctor or maybe a barber,” said eight-year old Torrie.

  According to Jackson, the boys have been working on the project nearly every Friday night since September. She said now that they won the regionals, the next step is to create a website for the national competition, where, if they win, they could each walk away with a $10,000 savings bond.

  This is the 21st year for the Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association ExploraVision Program, underwritten by Toshiba and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). According to Katherine Higuera-McCoy, public relations specialist, it is the world’s largest K –12 science and technology competition, challenging students to work in teams and design innovative technologies that could exist in 20 years.

  Since its inception, more than 315,000 students have participated and this year saw an increase of more than eight percent in the number of student participants. Competition was stiff for the Henry County students with 5,206 team projects representing participation from 15,963 students from across the United States and Canada.



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