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Franklin County students shine at Shoals Spark Competition

Every year Shoals Spark Competition gives students in elementary, middle and high school an opportunity to present their ideas on ways to impact their community, and this year Franklin County had two entrants finish in the top five.

A group of three seventh-graders from Red Bay High School placed first in the competition for their medical invention created to hold medical tubes in place.

“I was completely speechless,” said team member Conner Humphries.

Humphries, Nova Straub and Britley Hardin received the first-place prize of $1,000 to be split among the three of them.

Russellville High School senior Will McDermitt came in fifth place with his idea for an app that would allow students a central location to answer all school-related questions and received $200.

Humphries said he and his team came up with the idea after his mother had a gastrostomy, and he believed there was an easier way to keep the tubes in place.

After working on the device for two months, the final product is 3D-printed device that cost $7 to produce. The device holds and secures tubes in place to avoid disconnection, to prevent body fluid from leaking onto the skin, which can cause third degree burns, infection and irritation. The product is easily washable and reusable.

This is not the first time this device has been recognized, with the group winning first place for medical innovation at the state HOSA competition.

For McDermitt, he said he came up with his idea as a side project after learning about developing apps in a class. After he began developing his app, he learned the Shoals Spark Competition would be a great platform for him to showcase his project.

“When I began making it, I really was just focused on trying to make something to give back to my community,” McDermitt said.

McDermitt’s creation is an everyday school app designed to answer common questions students have while allowing flexibility among schools.

“I just tried to think of what some common questions are that students usually ask,” McDermitt said. “Everything from what is for lunch that day to when the next home football game is will be included in the app.”

The app would also include features like weather for the day, an inspirational quote and the school’s alma mater.

McDermitt said he also wants to include features that could be customized to best fit each individual school’s wants and needs.

RHS computer science teacher Brea Colagross said she is so proud of McDermitt and the effort he has put into his app and bettering the community through it.

“It has been so nice as a teacher to be able to see him grow and really find himself in computer science and discover something he wants to do for the rest of his life,” Colagross said.

McDermitt said he has been working on the app outside of school for five months, which has been difficult to balance with school work and extracurricular activities. Despite not having as much time to invest in the app as he would currently like to, he said he has big plans for the app.

“The hope is to one day have a full business model and a modular developed app that can be changed for individual schools,” McDermitt said.