JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – If your idea of ninth grade science is dissecting a frog, then you need to take a look at what ninth graders at Northview High School are up to.
Sara Lepkofker, a biology teacher at Northview High School, and her team of three student innovators. Yashi Sanghvi, Amy Hu, and Amanda Zhang joined nearly 5,000 other teams from across the United States and Canada who are developing innovative technologies that could help build a better future.
The students competed in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)/Toshiba ExploraVision competition . The Northview team developed a Kidney Microfilter Regulation Device (KRMD), an artificial silicone kidney that would be surgically implanted into a patient’s body.
This innovative device earned the girls a national second place award for grades 7-9 in the NSTA/Toshiba ExploraVision competition.
The students not only demonstrated the ability to work on real-word problem solving, they also learned the value of competitive projects in the science classroom.
Lepkofker noted these three students were not the only ones to benefit from and learn through this competition.
"I have been doing ExploraVision as a part of my honors biology curriculum for three years,” said Lepkofker. “The reason is that it fits perfectly with our STEM [Science, Technology and Math] county initiatives – to promote the development of student knowledge and abilities to apply STEM principles and problem solving in academic and real world settings.”
In addition, it offers the students a chance to enter a national competition as a ninth grader where the outcome could catch the eye of a college recruiter in the future.
In three years, Lepkofker’s students have had one national second place winner, two regional winners
(one was the second-place national winner) and six honorable mentions.
“All of these accomplishments look great on their resume,” Lepkofker said. “It is also really nice to see these young incredibly bright students rewarded for their efforts. I am so proud to teach at Northview High School."
Lepkofker's students also explained how the project supported their learning in science.
"I have enjoyed participating in Exploravision. It has allowed me to study and learn about so many different subjects that I probably would have never researched if I wasn't in the competition,” said Amanda Zhang.
Amy Hu’s mother is a dialysis nurse. She tells Amy about her patients and the problems kidney failure can cause.
“It is really hard for the patient and it is a long and tedious process to try and live with it. I thought about how I could change their lives so that they didn't have to spend so much time and money on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis or wait for a kidney transplant,” Hu said.
Working on the project taught Hu and her teammates a lot about how kidneys work and how to work together and use critical thinking in problem-solving.
Yashi Sanghvi jumped at the chance to participate in the ExploraVision project.
“I saw it, and I immediately thought, ‘Wow.” Before this, I had never seen a project that did not place limits on our creativity,” Yashi said.
Here was a chance to be a part of creating a futuristic, realistic product that could possibly make an impact in the world,” she said.