Blue Ridge 4-H Physics and Engineering Team

Blue Ridge 4-H Physics and Engineering (STEM) team are, front from left, Kenneth Daniels, Taylor Hess, Daniel Munera and Lucas Munera; back from left, Matthew Jerome, Ethan Van Meer, Kaitlyn Drevnick and Jackson Woods.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE — The Blue Ridge Junior High 4-H Physics and Engineering Club is an Honorable Mention Recipient for 2020-21 in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition. The team is comprised of students in fifth through eighth grade and includes Kenneth Daniels, Taylor Hess, Daniel Munera, Lucas Munera, Matthew Jerome, Ethan Van Meer, Kaitlyn Drevnick and Jackson Woods.

The most recent subject of the team’s research and design is vaping and its harmful effects.

“They’re hard and smart work is rightly celebrated in this national contest to develop Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) solutions that address local issues,” said Algebra/Geometry/Fab Lab Teacher Kevin Woolridge.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow is program that encourages 6th to 12th grade students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in STEM.

There were 75 semifinalists and 25 Honorable Mentions across the nation. The Blue Ridge team will receive a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 for their classroom due to the strong promise and innovation that their idea showed.

“This, combined with our top 20 finish in last year’s competition makes the Blue Ridge Junior High Schools 4-H Physics and Engineering Club a STEM leader in Arizona,” said Woolridge.

About their project

For their Samsung Solve for Tomorrow project, the team designed and then constructed a prototype to test low-cost do-it-yourself vaping detectors. The vaping detectors are designed specifically to be installed in common spaces throughout schools.

And that’s not all.

“We are building a low-cost vape detection sensor to discourage e-cigarette use in our school district,” said Blue Ridge 4-H Physics and Engineering club member Kaitlyn Drevnick. “”The sensor will also have features that can detect cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana, especially now that it is legalized in our state for over-21s.”

The team’s project combines health education and STEM.

“Once we have our prototype designed, we will be able to upload it to open-source sites on the internet so school districts across the nation and even the world can download our design to then use it,” said Drevnick.

“We have learned numerous things including how to work better as a team, how to use CAD computer programs, and how to use fab lab-type machines such as 3D printers, said the Blue Ridge team. “We hope to use these skills later in our future lives!”

“Throughout this process, students will gain real life experience, understanding and awareness of the prevalence of vaping in schools as well as the negative health consequences and vaping prevention,” says Woolridge.

The stats

“Statistics have shown that 1 out of every 20 junior high students vape, and 1 out of every 5 high school students vape,” said Blue Ridge 4-H Physics and Engineering Club member Jackson Woods. “Not only that, but other people are suffering too. More than half of students in grades 6-12 are exposed to secondhand smoke in public areas.”

“Vaping has caused so many injuries and deaths in our country that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a name for it: EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette/vaping associated lung injury. Vaping can also increase risk of contracting COVID-19 by five to seven times,” said Woods.

It is growing at an ever increasing and alarming rate. The CDC indicated that 1:5 high school students and 1:20 middle school students vape, more than half (55.1%) of middle and high school students are being exposed to second hand smoke in public places states an excerpt from the team’s submission. The team cites directly from the U.S. surgeon general about the epidemic of youth vaping.

The team’s project also shares that, according to the U.S. surgeon general, vaping among high school students doubled and among middle school students it tripled from 2017-2019. And, the National Institute of Health indicated youth who have or are currently vaping are 5 to 7 times more likely to contract COVID-19 and “are significantly more vulnerable to its most adverse health outcomes.”

If you are interested in donating metalworking tools, materials, time or funds to help with these projects contact the Blue Ridge District Office, Fab Lab Physics and Engineering Club by emailing

Reach the reporter at

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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