A team of Berwick Area High School students recently took first place in the third annual STEM competition at the Bloomsburg Fair. With the victory, Berwick Area High School was awarded a $10,000 check, sponsored by the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, The Foundation of the Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce and Martz Technologies. The 2019 competition theme was “Synergizing Technology and Health in the Community.” The nine teams who entered the contest researched, designed and presented projects capable of improving health care in the community through the use of technology. Each group was given $250 to cover the cost of supplies used in the project. Judges from industry, academia and government determined the top three teams, which received monetary awards to be used for their high schools’ STEM programs. Central Columbia High School took second place in the competition. Midd-West High School placed third.

According to a post on the district’s Facebook page, students Gianna Popko, Dallas Schechterly, Mia Doll, Tim Maron, Colt McAninch, Luis Donayre and Sydney Lloyd created the winning presentation entitled “Benny the Bunny” under the direction of Berwick Area High School science teacher Matt Shrader. The students are enrolled in Mr. Shrader’s Advanced Placement (AP) Electromagnetism Physics Class and the Berwick STEM Program.

They designed a computer program using QB64 (a BASIC emulator) with the goal of providing pediatricians with a tool to receive more reliable information on the health/wellness choices of their elementary school age patients in an efficient and enjoyable manner.

The program creates a story around a character “Benny the Bunny” that instructs the child-patient to make choices about how Benny spends his day – if Benny spent his day the way the child does. The choices reflect the child’s dietary habits, living arrangements, school social interactions and basic hygiene habits.

At the end of the survey, the program provides an animated story for the child depicting Benny’s day using the information the child has provided. This program/app would be given to the child in the waiting area, with the information from the survey provided to the pediatrician electronically, allowing the doctor to make more informed decisions about encouraging healthier lifestyle choices.