For those who wonder exactly how much water they use on any given day — there’s an app for that.

It was created by a group of mostly middle-school-aged students who are driven by a love of problem-solving and a keen sense of what it means to change the world. In just three years, the group, which calls itself the “Bionic Porcupines III” in First Lego League circles, has won two major awards and created two revolutionary systems to solve major problems. On Feb. 10 the third iteration of the Bionic Porcupines won the 2018 Northern Utah State First Lego League Championship at Weber State for their teamwork and innovative ideas. The Porcupines’ next stop is the First Lego League World Championship in Houston, Texas, in April.

“They are a really talented group,” says their coach Mark Snaufer, who is a parent to team member Eric Snaufer. “All of them, whatever they want to be when they grow up, they are going to be it. They have huge potential.”

The core of the Bionic Porcupines team formed almost three years ago, when Eric Snaufer, and Carter Lechtenberg were fifth-graders at Sunrise Elementary. Noporcupines.jpgw they are in the seventh grade with Eric Snaufer attending Midvale Middle and Lechtenberg enrolled at Butler Middle. Their original teammate Katie Drennan is now in the tenth grade at Alta High, while three other teammates, Allie Drennan, Kassie Holt and Timothy Holt attend the Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a charter school.

The first year the Bionic Porcupines joined First Lego League, they devised a plan to recycle glass at Sunrise Elementary. The second year, the team upped the ante, looking to Utah’s international airport in Salt Lake City for a problem to solve. They created a bionic “scarecrow” out of a battery-powered, portable device with a flapping air tube to scare away birds from the airport’s runways.

The invention earned the group the prestigious President’s Environmental Youth Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to Mark Snaufer, the airport still uses three of the devices to divert migratory birds away from harmful paths.

This year, the group tackled water conservation. “The project is wild to work through,” Mark Snaufer says.

The group began doing preliminary research last summer, visiting the EPA in Denver, Colo. to research issues, then touring Deer Creek reservoir, and talking to Sandy City officials and other water professionals. Each student came up with 10 ideas on how they could solve problems with water consumption, until finally the group decided the best approach was to create an app they call “Water Bank.”

The app uses smart meters installed by Sandy City to monitor how much water a home is using. Data is uploaded to a third-party site once an hour, and the app allows users to examine their own data, but with a fun twist. First, if users decrease their water usage, they can donate the savings on their water bill to a list of charities designated by Sandy City. Second, the app allows homeowners to create simulations to see how a smart sprinkler or other water-wise techniques will affect their water consumption. The app allows users to make a commitment to reduce water usage, and it tracks their progress.

“I’m just amazed at the creativity of the group,” Mark Snaufer says. “It’s exciting to see them have that free-thinking capability and experience.”

The coach, who is a rocket motor engineer for Orbital ATK, estimates his students have invested at least 1,500 hours on their project since August, and they have more to do to prepare for the world championship — including raising the funds to get there. The team established a Go Fund Me page to help with the money, but they’ll be meeting three times a week for hours at a time to finish everything else.

As challenging as the Bionic Porcupines’ project sounds, Snaufer says the one area the students have learned the most is how to speak in front of a crowd.

“This will sound funny, but I think it benefitted them the most for public speaking and for organizing tasks,” he says. “Some of them were a little bit hesitant to speak in public when we started out, but they have all gained a great deal of confidence in speaking in front of people. … That was a huge thing for the team to understand different people communicate differently.”
As the doors of Midvale Middle officially opened to the public on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, students didn’t just walk toward the school’s entryway — they ran. The energy was palpable as they hurried to see what the new classrooms, auditorium and gymnasium in Canyons District’s newest school looks like.

“Whoever designed this school was a genius,” one student body officer said. From the colorful exterior to the innovative interior, Midvale Middle is full of creativIMG_8494.jpge details that are meant to inspire learners to achieve their greatest potential, says Brian Peterson, lead designer of the school for VCBO Architecture, which worked with Hughes General Contractors to create the building. “Great architecture comes from one single idea, and the idea behind this building is that strength comes through unity of different, beautiful things,” Peterson said. “We designed this school not just for 6th, 7th, 8th grade kids, but for the whole community.”  

Members of the Midvale community, including Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini; City Council members Paul Grover and Paul Hunt; Utah Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray; former Canyons Board of Education member Robert Green; and former Midvale Middle principals Sue Malone, Wendy Dau and Paula Logan, attended the event and took a VIP tour of the building. Canyons Board of Education President Sherril Taylor, Board of Education representatives Amber Shill, Nancy Tingey, Mont Millerberg and Steve Wrigley and members of Canyons' administration, including Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe were also in attendance. 

The building is one of eight new schools built by Canyons District through a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010. With the opening of Alta View Elementary on Aug. 17 and next year’s completion of a remodel of Indian Hills Middle, Canyons will have completed 13 major improvements without raising taxes and while maintaining a AAA bond rating.

Midvale Middle was first built in 1955 as a red brick building situated at the heart of a quiet neighborhood. As it sits on its original footprint, the new building features a state-of-the-art auditorium, an energy efficient heating and cooling system, floor-to-ceiling windows, a student lounge, modern media center, courtyards, soccer fields and more. “I’ve lived a long time,” Mayor Seghini told the crowd of hundreds gathered at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “What you have here in this school is a school of the future, not the past. You have a school that has no limits to your future. You have wonderful opportunities here.”

The school will host a back-to-school night on Friday, Aug. 18 for those who were unable to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Parents can meet their students’ teachers from 5-7 p.m. and enjoy a free hot dog from 6-7:30 p.m.

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  • Folks living near Midvale Middle are hearing the cracks and groans of a 60-year-old brick building coming down to make way for the future.

    Demolition at the school at 7852 S. Pioneer Street started this week — and workers will be on the site for the next two years while they construct a new campus for the community. The building is being dismantled so the District can build a new 203,000-square-foot, three-wing building, which is scheduled to be done in fall 2017.

    The new school will feature large windows to allow for a lot of natural light, high-tech classrooms, teacher-collaboration spaces, science and computer labs, a multiple-use front-entrance atrium, a 650-seat auditorium, indoor and outdoor student commons areas, a full-length basketball court with an elevated running track, and dance and exercise rooms, among other amenities.

    While crews work on the new Midvale Middle, students and teachers will be housed in the old Crescent View Middle, 11150 S. 300 East, Sandy. Students who used to walk to the Midvale Middle will be bused to the temporary school.

    However, the scope of construction has changed the District's transportation plans for these students. There is a new bus stop.

    Instead of meeting near the campus, students will need to meet seven buses near the Midvale City Park and the Midvale Boys and Girls Club, 7631 Chapel St., at 7:15 a.m. Buses will leave the park site at 7:20 a.m. After school, the buses will leave the school in Sandy at 2:57 p.m. and arrive back at the Midvale Park and Boys and Girls Club at 3:20 p.m.

    For late-start Fridays, buses will leave in the morning at 8:55 a.m. 

    When school starts this year, the Midvale students will be welcomed by new Principal Wendy Dau and Assistant Principals Karen Moore, Kerry Schroeppel and Kip Carlsen.

    The new school is funded by a $250 million bond approved by voters in 2010.
    An energetic, innovative, and student achievement-focused Canyons District middle school principal has been selected as the new superintendent of the Logan City School District.

    Frank Schofield, the principal of Midvale Middle, was appointed the new leader of the 11-school public school system on Friday, March 6, 2015.  The Logan Board of Education’s search for a new superintendent started in September 2014 after its current Superintendent, Dr. Marshal Garrett, announced his pending retirement. 

    Schofield joined Canyons District in 2009 — the first year of operations for Utah’s newest district. He first served as Principal of Sunrise Elementary in Sandy. Last year, he was appointed Principal of Midvale Middle.   

    “In the six years that he’s been with Canyons District, Mr. Schofield has done a phenomenal job at the two schools that he’s been assigned to supervise. As a result of his great work, he is well-regarded by students, parents, community partners, the Board of Education, and District Administration,” said Mike Sirois, Canyons District’s Executive Director for School Performance. “On a personal level, we will miss his valuable skills and friendly demeanor. On a professional level, we’re thrilled at the opportunity he’s been given to positively impact student achievement, educational innovation, and community engagement in the Logan City School District.”

    While he makes plans to hit the ground running on July 1, 2015, which will be his inaugural day as the Logan schools chief, Schofield says that he’s “been blessed, fortunate and privileged” to have been part of Canyons’ foundational years. 

    “It has been one of the great privileges of my career to be surrounded by outstanding leaders and colleagues in Canyons, and I am grateful for all they have taught me,” Schofield says. “I hope to take all I have learned and apply it to our plans to continue the tradition of excellence in Logan schools. I look forward to observing the continued success of Canyons, albeit from afar, and know that I was part of something as unique and positive as the Canyons School District.”

    Canyons Board of Education President Sherril H. Taylor congratulated Schofield on his appointment and wished him well when he starts work in the Cache County district this summer.

    “Frank’s skills as an instructional leader range from maintaining high-quality gifted-student magnet programs to developing positive academic and behavioral supports for low-income and English language-learning students,” Taylor said. “He’s been a valuable part of our leadership team since the very beginning, and we’re sad to see him go. However, we’re pleased to know that we’ll continue to work alongside him in this noble endeavor of educating the schoolchildren of Utah.”  

    Dr. Kathryn McCarrie, Canyons District's Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, says Schofield “exemplifies what a true educator is — and can be.”

    “Frank is one of the finest educators with whom I have had the opportunity to work,” Dr. McCarrie said. “He always sees the potential in every student, and he believes in the abilities and potentials of his faculty. He’s ethical, committed, personable, looks for solutions to complex problems — and always puts the students first. Students are always the focus of his time and attention.” 

    No royal decree necessary: Midvale Middle School is the chess king. Midvale's team dominated the competition at the Canyons Middle School Intramurals Chess Tournament on Jan. 25, 2014, where the students scored 40.5 of 42 points. Second-place went to Mount Jordan, with 27.5 points. Draper Park came in third with 25.5 points.

    Additionally, Midvale students won five of six Board prizes in Tables 1-5; a Draper Park student won Table 6. They are:

    • Table 1: Stephen Yu, 6.5- 0.5
    • Table 2: Scott Abbott, 7-0
    • Table 3: Justin Dong, 6-1
    • Table 4: Wensen Zhang, 7-0
    • Table 5: Bryan Guo, 7-0
    • Table 6: M. Garcia, 5-2

    In addition, students Tom Zhang and Alan Zhao a team posted a 7-0 record on Table 6.

    The Chess Tournament is part of Canyons' Middle School Intramurals Program.  The program is aimed at giving young teens competitive athletic and academic events in which everyone is welcome to participate. This year's tournaments include Cross Country, which was held in October; 3-on-3 Basketball and Soccer, which are scheduled for the spring.
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