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Ashland Middle School students create innovative approach to real-world problem

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ASHLAND, Ky. (WOWK) — A group of eighth graders at Ashland Middle School like to see if they can find problems, and then they fix them. Emily Aliff is talking about their latest invention and how it came about. Aliff says they experienced something some live with every day – a wheelchair. Aliff and her classmates got a front-row seat to being in an emergency while bound to a wheelchair.

“How would you get down? There’s a fire, how would you get down?” Aliff asked. “I’d feel scared because everybody else is evacuating and you’re just sitting there having to wait for somebody to come.”

So the class is creating an app that tracks mobility-impaired students. Along with that, the students are creating a prototype for a mechanism to get those students down the stairs. Those plans have made them the three-time Kentucky state champions in the “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow” competition.

In the first year, students won for inventing a contraption that safely picks up used needles. Last year, they won for creating a website that helps veterans find benefits easier. The students say this is all in an effort to make the world a better place.

“I really like to help people out whenever I can, you know?” Samuel Tibbits said. “Just do what you can to give back to the world. Try to help everybody out.”

It was initially just supposed to be a class project, but it turned into an award-winning solution to a problem.

“We’ve created apps before, we’ve done stuff like that, but the experience itself was really unique,” Nathan Woolery said.

Joining Ashland Middle School with West Virginia’s state title is Wayne High School in Wayne County, W.Va.

Wayne High School students created a plan for a “medical app that will allow firefighters to track exposures to carcinogens and research changes in respiration and skin absorption rates that introduce carcinogens in firefighters’ bloodstream,” according to a news release.

Each school will get $15,000 in technology from Samsung.

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