Designing Fire Extinguishers in Upper School

Have you ever wondered how exactly a fire extinguisher works? Upper Schoolers designed and built their own extinguishers in a science competition last week!

First, they were tasked with applying for a job (chemical engineer, mechanical engineer, failure manager, or intellectual property manager) prior to being teamed up. Their challenge? To design an extinguisher, build it, determine the amounts of acid and base needed to produce carbon dioxide, and then put out a small fire from one meter away. The goal was not about who was most successful; it was about the design only.

“It was so great to watch the students work together as a team,” shares Ms. Laura Bradford, Upper School Science Teacher. “They each had designated roles, but they had to all come together to write out a patent submission for their specific design. They were able to coordinate the chemical calculations, the physical building of the fire extinguisher, the documentation of growth throughout the process, and pull it into one group patent.”

To wrap up the project, the participants incorporated the following sections into their patent writeups:

  • Summary page
  • Drawing set page(s)
  • Patent body pages
    • Specification
      • A brief summary of the invention
      • A detailed description of the drawings
  • Claim set

Last Thursday, the students tested their extinguishers in front of a group of judges: Ladue Fire Chief Lynn, Ladue Fire Assistant Chief Johnson, Armstrong Teasdale Intellectual Property Attorney Matthew Gearin, MICDS Director of Campus Security Tim White and Upper School Sceince Teacher Paul Zahller. “The students displayed their innovation and intelligence on this project and all the judges were impressed. It was clear that the science faculty team who mentored them were very proud,” shared Mr. Tim White.

Congratulations to Landon Gelvon ’22 who was able to put out the flame when testing the extinguisher that his group created. A big congratulations to all who were able to come up with such innovative designs for extinguisher products. Hopefully, this Fire Extinguisher Competition sparks a flame in our students to continue such engineering challenges!