WBHS has implemented a solution designed by two seniors
By Rachel Gergetz, Current Staff
After struggling for years with misplaced Chromebooks and tangled cords, two West Bend East High School students decided to invent a solution.
Seniors Abigail Gawrych and Nathan Meyer spent all of last year addressing a problem faced by so many at West Bend High School. The result was a bar that runs across the top of each computer cart, uses magnets and has individual slots for each of the cords. The bar prevents the cords from becoming tangled or buried, keeping them easily accessible right above each Chromebook.
This product was the perfect solution for teachers and students.
Classroom sets of Chromebook carts have been in use at WBHS for years, and both students and teachers alike have dreaded the process of putting these laptop devices back into the carts at the end of the hour. The long cords would wrap around each other and it would often be hard to tell which cord belonged to which computer and respective slot number.
While brainstorming real-life problems in last year’s Engineering Design and Development class, Gawrych and Meyer remembered how a teacher of theirs, Jessica Flitter, said that if there was one thing she would fix, it would be the Chromebook cart mayhem.
Gawrych and Meyer decided to take on the task of solving this problem. Throughout the 2018-19 school year, the two students developed a product to organize Chromebook cart cords. Their goals included creating something easy to manufacture and finding a design that would significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to plug in Chromebooks, in order to maximize class time.
Once they had their prototype, the partners did a timed test by trying out their invention in a teacher’s classroom. Their findings were extremely encouraging.
“It took anywhere from five to eight minutes to plug in the full Chromebook cart without our product and only one-and-a-half minutes with our product,” Meyer said.
At the end of the year, Gawrych and Meyer presented their invention to a panel of engineers who asked them questions and analyzed their product. The presentation and the product turned out to be a success, but it didn’t stop there.
“Our director of technology, Tim Harder, asked if they could make a set of 30 to be used throughout this building and others,” said Jacob Gitter, the teacher of the engineering class. “Abby and Nathan spent a day this summer building all of the organizers.”
The products were installed for the beginning of this school year. Assuming all goes well, Gawrych and Meyer have heard talk of district-wide installation, and even a possibility of patenting their invention.
So far, the two have no need to fear. Teachers already are pleased with the organizer. Shelly Krueger, a West Spanish teacher, has seen the stark difference between Chromebook plug-ins then and now.
“I can’t say how much I love this invention in the Chromebook carts with the cords,” Krueger said. “In the past, there was no way I even wanted students to attempt to plug things in because it was just a mess. Now, it is quick and easy and accessible. I don’t know why someone didn’t invent this earlier.”
Krueger is not the only happy one in the school. Gitter is delighted with what his students have accomplished.
“I am extremely proud of them,” Gitter said. “They developed a solution to a complex problem and then applied that solution to the real world.”
The authentic experience was important to both Gawrych and Meyer, too.
“I thought it was a very great project,” Meyer said. “Not because the problem we had was specifically interesting, but because we got to experience the whole process it takes to create a solution to a problem. My plan is to get a degree in some field of engineering and this is exactly the type of skill I will need to have in my career.”
(Top image: The Chromebook cart in Shelly Krueger’s Spanish classroom has never been better organized. Photo by Rachel Gergetz, Current Staff.)