ATLANTIC CITY — Students are used to solving math problems.
But can they also solve the problem of oversleeping and being late for school?
Sure, with the Snoozle, a ro-botic alarm clock game designed by students from Jordan Road School in Somers Point.
Or how about spending too much time on computers and not enough time getting exercise?
Stick the tablet in a locking Fitcase that won’t open until a fitness band determines the wearer has achieved his or her exercise goals.
Area students displayed their entrepreneurial spirit Tuesday by “selling” the products they created to solve real world prob-lems before a panel of seven judges at the New Jersey School Boards Conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
The first STEAM Tank challenge invited students to submit ideas that incorporated science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Seventeen projects were chosen from 41 submitted, including five from Somers Point, three from the Atlantic County Institute of Technology and two from Egg Harbor Township High School.
Somers Point students were the first to present Tuesday and impressed the judges with their inventiveness, research, presentation and confidence.
“I was stressed going in,” said Riley Murray, 13, a member of the Fitcase team. “But in the end, I remembered I knew a lot about my product.”
The projects were developed last year with teacher Randall Kohr and were finished this year under STEM teacher Larry Randour, who admits he did very little.
“My job was to stay out of their way,” he said. “They had brilliant ideas. I just made sure they had the time to develop them.”
Teams from Somers Point and ACIT presented Tuesday and EHT and others will present Wednesday. The winner will get $150 for their school and a trophy. A few judges said they’d be ready to invest.
“They are innovative, bright, enthusiastic and coming up here with confidence,” said judge Lisa Ascolese, of the Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs and founder and CEO of The Inventress. “I see myself in them, but I didn’t have the same opportunities at their age.”
Other Somers Point projects included the Click-It, a microchip sticker that can be attached to frequently lost items then retrieved with an app; a programmable study game to take the boredom out of homework; and interchangeable sneaker soles called Clickers, ideal for parents of children in multiple sports.
Students from ACIT presented the Maximus Ocean Cleaner, a solar-powered device that would pull plastics from the ocean; a Tidal Stream Turbine for the Absecon Inlet that could generate electricity; and a Pop-up Storm Shelter to provide better and more efficient shelters for people uprooted by natural disasters.
Egg Harbor Township students are addressing the bee crisis with a bee-like robot to pollinate flowers, and a touch pad-activated control circuit that could be used by wounded veterans.
The challenge was developed by Sgt. George Johnson, of the U.S. Army Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion, with assistance from the NJSBA and the New Jersey Technology Educators Association. He said next year they plan to hold county competitions and then have each county winner compete at the convention.
Schools presenting STEAM projects at the conference said students enjoy solving real-world problems and working on projects that have a practical use.
Micah Wenker, who teaches pre-engineering at the Cape May County Technical High School, said his students are designing and building their own remote-controlled aerial device. He sees the program linking to plans for drone testing at the Cape May Airport.
“This is a pipeline to jobs,” he said.
Somers Point interim Superintendent Thomas Baruffi said the STEAM Tank projects showed how people working together using all their skills can generate real-life learning. It was school board member Karen Broomall who read about the project and proposed it last year and teacher Randall Kohr who embraced it.
And while the common-core content standards have been somewhat maligned, Baruffi said they do call for teaching students public speaking and presenting at a young age, and he sees his students reaping the benefits.
“Look at what these students are doing here today,” he said.