Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

North Pole STEM students

This team of eighth graders from North Pole Middle School, along with their teacher Anna Creamer, are in the Top 20 of finalists for the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow contest. From left, Danika Dawley, Lucy Reese and Raegan Kingry. 

The “ADHD Matamata” is almost ready to debut.

This is a special device created by three North Pole middle school students, who are finalists in the 10th Annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. They invented a wrist band that buzzes at pre-set times to remind the wearer to pay attention.

Danika Dawley, Lucy Reese and Raegan Kingry are the inventors of the wearable, nonmedical device. It is designed to vibrate at different intervals of time, helping students diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stay more engaged in learning and mitigating the likelihood of distractions.

Matamata is the Samoan word for “watch.”

“When the girls first came up with the idea in September, they were looking for a catchy name for their device and liked the sound of that one,” said North Pole Middle School teacher Anna Creamer.

The students carefully researched ADHD and learned that about 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD in the country. ADHD results in poor concentration in the classroom, ultimately affecting academic performance.

The team chose their device as a simple way to help ADHD students. It also meets the criteria for the national competition that challenges students in grades 6-12 to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to inspire change in their communities. 

Now, they are getting ready to share their final prototype in a virtual presentation.

“We have been preparing,” Creamer said.

When North Pole Middle School closed down on March 16, the teacher grabbed the prototype in progress and took it home with her. Now she and the students work on it together, online.

“It’s not ideal, but with everything going on, it is best that the device stays in one pair of hands,” she said. “I have all of the tools too, so I’ve been following guidance from the team as to what to work on with it.”

The team, one of 20 national finalists, was supposed to travel to New York for the final presentation, but the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that. Instead, they will make their presentation online. They’re already practicing.

“We have had the opportunity to run it by two mentors so far, one of them being a teacher that has won nationally before, so we are feeling pretty prepared for next week,” Cramer said. “Our weekly meetings have been very helpful with that. We are trying to anticipate any questions that may come up in addition to presenting our device in the best possible light.”

There is a lot riding on this presentation. The team has a chance to win $100,000-plus in technology for their school and to be named one of five national winners.

The North Pole Middle School team will have 10 minutes to present the project, demonstrate the prototype and participate in the question-and-answer session with a panel of judges.

“In addition to problem-solving and creative thinking skills, the event will foster remote presentation skills students and teachers have begun to develop as they navigate in this new virtual learning environment,” according to a press release from Samsung.

There will be five winners of the $100,000 grand prize, to be announced after the Virtual Pitch event on Wednesday, May 27. The Community Choice winner, chosen by online voting, will also be announced at the same time.

This team is already a winner. They won the STEM challenge as one of 100 state winner, earning $15,000 in technology for their school. When they advanced to the Top 20, they earned $50,000 in technology and supplies for their school.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.