As a school transportation publication, we are focused on school buses, drivers, and the many other staffers and suppliers involved in getting students to and from school safely. But how often do we take a look at the students who make contributions to safer transportation?
I was recently reminded of all the ways in which students have used their talents to help improve their buses and the surrounding environments when we published a news story in February on an innovation out of North Carolina, courtesy of a team of sixth grade students.
The group, who attend Holly Grove Middle School, was recognized as a state finalist in Samsung’s “Solve for Tomorrow,” a national contest that encourages students to create change in their communities by using skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The students created a flashing sign with environmentally-friendly LED lights to alert students, bus drivers, and motorists when a school bus is within 300 feet of the bus stop. Based on their contest submission, they were granted $20,000 worth of technology for their school.
The idea originated during a classroom discussion, when two of the students recalled an incident in which one of them was nearly hit by a vehicle while trying to board their bus.
“We thought flashing lights on a sign at the school bus stop would help get the attention of motorists that often pass the bus stop arm,” the group told School Bus Fleet. “We think flashing lights will be better than just a plain sign that motorists are often desensitized to.”
In April, we shared more news about these students winning the top award in the contest, which earned them $100,000 in prizes for their school. They were also recognized as a Community Choice winner in a contest in which the public voted for their favorite among the 10 national finalists, and won $10,000.
The fact that these students chose a project that enhanced the safety of their school bus environment shows how important the yellow bus is to so many kids. The fact that it is an environmentally-friendly solution is even better.
Less recently, we also reported on some standout students who used their skills to teach safe boarding and exiting of the bus and proper bus etiquette onboard.
Last year, second-grade students in Kentucky applied their researching skills and technological know-how to a video and school curriculum that address school bus safety and won a state championship.
The Adair County Primary Center students researched, scripted, recorded, and edited “Bus Safety for Everyone,” a video on school bus safety and created a curriculum to present with it. The video and curriculum won the Kentucky Student Technology Leadership Program Championship in March 2018.
Also of note, in 2015, four Minnesota students with an aptitude for math and science used their STEM smarts to help kids learn how to stay safe around school buses while also having fun.
The girls, who were known as Team RUBIES, a Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science team of seventh and eighth graders from Lake Harriet Community School, designed a computer game that teaches kids about school bus safety, targeting kindergartners to fourth graders.
The team was inspired to work on the project after reading a news story about a girl who was killed after dropping her homework under the school bus and trying to retrieve it without letting the bus driver know, Team RUBIES member Isabella told SBF.
As the team worked on the game, they asked younger students in their school basic safety questions, such as, “What would you do if your bus got into an accident?” and found that none of the students could answer correctly.
“It was eye-opening,” Isabella said. “The teachers teach us this at the beginning of the year, but the [students] don’t remember it. We need to do something to make it stick so they remember and don’t get hurt.”
To me, these stories serve as an important reminder that there are many talented and caring students out there who are also invested in making the ride to and from school even safer.
Are there students in your school district or community who are contributing to school bus safety? Please tell us about them in the comments section below.