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BHS students assist principal with high-tech project for Byrne Elementary

When William Byrne STEM Elementary Principal Lyle Bomsta needed technical support for a project at his school, he turned to three Burnsville High School students.

Fiona Chow, Josh Johnson and Garrett Riedesel are in the Engineering Design and Development Class taught by Orion Patrie. This Project Lead the Way (PLTW) course requires students to work in teams on a real-life project of their choice.

“It’s very important for students to have the experience of working for a client other than themselves or me as the teacher,” said Patrie. “This gives them perspective on what clients expect and how to work with others on a professional level. It’s real-world experience that prepares them for work and careers.”

Bomsta’s project is an augmented reality sandbox that his students raised money for last year. The augmented reality sandbox was originally created at the University of California-Davis. View video

“It’s an awesome interactive learning  tool for a STEM school to have because it combines science and technology,” he said. “It’s hands-on learning about water use, erosion, landforms, weather, and concepts like cause and effect, and much more.”

Bomsta secured some of the pieces needed for the project including software, projector and camera. Byrne parent Tom Schneider helped to build the sandbox, and the Byrne PTO contributed funds for materials.

Fiona, Josh, and Garrett’s task is to design the most efficient mount for the projector and camera. In addition, they will program the software and calibrate the equipment. There are several factors they must take into consideration such as ensuring the wires will be hidden for safety. There are also height and width constraints because the sandbox will be mobile and will have to fit through classroom doorways. The team will also have the sandbox ¨kid-tested¨ to make sure it can withstand the use it will get.

“We ran into a lot more problems than we had expected,” Garrett said. “We had to come up with a better design. It’s making me think out of the box which will help me later in my engineering career.”

“It’s great to have an opportunity in high school to work on a real-world project that will impact others. And not only do we get to grow our skills, we will also be giving back to our community,” said Fiona, who attended William Byrne Elementary. “Working on this project, I’ve gotten to improve my teamwork and leadership skills as well as my technical skills -- all which will help me later in my career.”

The augmented reality sandbox will be unveiled and launched during an assembly in early 2018.

“My students are going to be excited about this,” said Bomsta, who is grateful for the help of the BHS students. “This is the kind of interactive exhibit you’d see at a science museum. It’s going to get a lot of use at our school!”

(Photo at top) William Byrne Principal Lyle Bomsta conferred recently with BHS students who are working on a special technology project for his school. The students are, from left, Garrett Riedesel, Josh Johnson and Fiona Chow.