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Cooper Middle School student Kriesh Tivare uses an oscilloscope (courtesy of the Tivare family)

A 13-year-old Great Falls resident’s science experiment about recharging electric vehicles while they’re in motion won him statewide honors.

Kriesh Tivare earned the State Merit Award for Virginia in the national “3M Young Scientist Challenge” last month for an experiment that examined how to make contactless charging a reality using coils in a roadway to power a toy car.

“It basically charges the car as it drives over,” Kriesh said.

A partnership between the engineering company 3M and Discovery Education, the Young Scientist Challenge takes place annually and is open to students in fifth through eighth grade. Competitors submit short videos explaining the science behind a possible solution to a problem they see in their community.

A panel of judges selected a merit winner from each state as well as 10 finalists, who will compete in a final event at 3M’s headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in October. The overall winner will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to get a mentorship from the company.

In his prize-winning experiment, Kriesh explains how switches on a road could be pressed by a tire to close a circuit and use electromagnetic induction to power a vehicle, rather than having stationary charging stations restoring power.

Kriesh got the idea when his family would go on trips and have to hunt for and spend time at charging stations for their Tesla Model 3, which they normally charge every day. During one family trip in 2019 to Boston, range anxiety was evident as they had to break every five to six hours, taking 45 minutes to an hour to recharge.

“At the mall, there’s this one spot that’s dedicated to…charging, and a lot of the charging stations are already being utilized,” he said, contrasting the amount of charging stations to gas stations.

Kriesh created his own materials using a fishing rod to wrap coils hundreds of times around small PVC piping.

He used a frequency generator to power coils on a roadway model and an oscilloscope to measure how much power was induced, experimenting with different coils and frequencies to maximize efficiency.

Heading into eighth grade at Cooper Middle School in McLean, Kriesh enjoys history and math classes and could see himself as an astronomical engineer, discovering a planet or looking for life in space.

Contactless charging — the term Kriesh used for his contest entry — is becoming a reality. For example, the company ElectReon Wireless Ltd. has deployed its technology on public roadways in Israel and Sweden for buses and trucks.

Researchers in California examined the technology in the 1970s and 1980s and eventually tested electric vehicles in motion. A 1992 report investigating the feasibility of electrifying highways noted a roadway inductor would cost a “few million dollars per lane mile,” but equipment costs for vehicles were “considerably more uncertain” at that time.

A research team at Cornell University, led by electrical and computer engineering associate professor Khurram Afridi, has been working on improving road-powered charging technology for electric vehicles, which they say could have uses from electrifying highways to supporting autonomous forklifts and robots in manufacturing warehouses.

Afridi said in a video about the technology that the timing could be right to introduce changes to infrastructure in need of repair.

Kriesh is interested in continuing his experiment by looking at how 5G signals could allow road coils to charge a vehicle without pressure plates, avoiding the need for his model car to drive over switches.

“In the future, the 5G network will replace the switches within the road to activate the coils in the road instantaneously,” Kriesh said in his contest video. “Dynamic charging could be a promising future for smart, driverless vehicles.”

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The Fairfax County School Board voted last night (Thursday) to change the boundaries for McLean and Langley high schools — but not in the way they had discussed last month.

Of the three possible boundary changes presented to the community in December, Fairfax County Public Schools recommended a modified version of Option C when the school board met on Jan. 21. Last night, however, the option presented for the board to vote on was “Option B,” which passed 11-1 with Member-At-Large Abrar Omeish dissenting.

The approved boundary change will reassign students from McLean to Langley in the Colvin Run Elementary School split feeder area, along with portions of the Westbriar and Spring Hill elementary school split feeder areas.

Dranesville District Representative Elaine Tholen also included a provision that would allow rising ninth graders affected by the boundary change to either attend Langley High School this fall or be grandfathered into McLean High School and get transportation provided for all four years of school.

Overcrowding is a decades-old problem at McLean despite several attempts to add space, the latest of which comes in the form of 12 modular classrooms that are currently under construction. They will be finished later this month and ready for students’ return in March, Tholen said.

The option that was favored last month would have shifted some Spring Hill Elementary students from Longfellow Middle School and McLean High to Cooper Middle School and Langley High.

Tholen said Option B came out ahead after the board weighed “many considerations, many of them contradictory,” from the impact of future developments to diversity at Langley High School.

“We heard loud and clear from those who participated in our public hearing and public engagement process: Clean up at least one split feeder while giving McLean some capacity relief,” Tholen said.

Community input is also the reason why the two feeder middle schools of Longfellow and Cooper were included in the boundary adjustment study.

As a result of the new boundaries, an estimated 190 students previously assigned to McLean will now go to Langley, and an estimated 78 students from Longfellow will be moved to Cooper.

“This is not a perfect solution. Neither were the other options,” Providence District Representative Karl Frisch said, adding that he would have loved to address the Colvin Run and Spring Hill split feeders “in their entirety.”

Frisch said this option relieves capacity concerns at McLean without overloading Langley or Cooper, and improves both the Colvin Run and Spring Hill split feeders. He added that FCPS and the board will continue studying capacity data for McLean, Langley and Marshall high schools as well as other schools in the Tysons area.

Omeish commended Tholen for her diligence but predicted the board will be “finding ourselves here in a few years” with this limited change.

“I don’t feel in good conscience that this is the most long-term solution,” she said.

Image via FCPS

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Fairfax County Public Schools has further refined a plan to relieve overcapacity at McLean High School using available space at Langley High School.

After presenting three possible boundary changes for the McLean and Langley pyramids at a community meeting on Dec. 7, FCPS Facilities and Transportation Services reviewed public feedback to refine one of its proposals, dubbed “Option C.” The updated option was presented to the Fairfax County School Board last night (Thursday).

For the last 10 years, overcrowding has persisted at McLean despite several limited attempts to add space over the years. The school sits at 118% capacity, with 2,350 students in a building designed for 1,993. Currently, 12 modular classrooms are being built to bring the capacity down to 100%.

The new recommendation from FCPS reassigns a portion of the area that currently feeds students from Spring Hill Elementary School to Longfellow Middle School and McLean. About 159 students would move from McLean to Langley, and about 73 students would move from Longfellow to Cooper Middle School.

“We have come a long way since work first began on the boundary adjustment between McLean and Langley pyramids,” Dranesville Representative Elaine Tholen said during the meeting. “Tonight, we are seeing some of the fruits of hard work our facilities staff has done to analyze option after option after listening to and incorporating public input.”

The original “Option C,” presented in December, considered reassigning students in the Spring Hill Elementary School split feeder area. After collecting emailed comments and verbal feedback, staff modified this option to create the new recommendation, said Jeffrey Platenberg, the assistant superintendent of facilities and transportation.

“This is a pretty natural process,” he said during the meeting. “We usually call these the hybrid recommendation.”

Staff who reviewed public feedback found that the communities involved were primarily concerned about the impact of development in and around Tysons, the possibility of too many split feeders, and the socioeconomic diversity of the schools involved, he said.

Meanwhile, Tholen said some have shared concerns about balancing populations amid COVID-19 uncertainties and ongoing development. Others worry that Cooper Middle School will be overlooked in the focus on McLean and Longfellow, and still other community members want FCPS to diversify the types of housing within the boundaries for Langley.

As for those worried about children in their final year of elementary, middle or high school, school board policy allows FCPS to grandfather in these students, Platenberg said.

The assistant superintendent said the proposed revision addresses some of these concerns while allowing FCPS to monitor growth at McLean and Langley high schools.

Tholen acknowledged that no plan will address all concerns, but she encouraged every neighborhood to share how they feel they would be impacted.

“We are still taking public input,” she said. “No final decision has been made.”

There will be a public hearing next Thursday (Jan. 28), and after that, the school board will vote to pick a plan on Feb. 4.

“Your input has been thoughtful and extremely helpful, so please continue,” Tholen said.

Chart via FCPS

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Fairfax County Public Schools officials presented three possible options for adjusting McLean High School’s boundary with Langley High School to address overcrowding at the former facility at a virtual community meeting on Monday (Dec. 7).

Officials say they considered several options and eliminated some when they determined that they would produce new overcrowding problems or create infrastructure or transportation issues.

Overcrowding has been a persistent concern at McLean throughout the past decade, as the school’s student population ballooned from 1,863 people in the fall of 2009 to over 2,000 people by 2012.

Despite several limited attempts to add space over the years, including the addition of temporary classrooms and the removal of lockers from hallways, FCPS says McLean High School is now at 118% capacity with 2,350 students in a building designed for 1,993 – a “substantial” deficit.

In comparison, Langley High School currently has 1,972 students and can accommodate 2,370 students after finishing a renovation last year.

FCPS has been exploring a possible boundary change for the two schools since early 2019. Feedback from a pair of community meetings in December 2019 led the Fairfax County School Board to add Cooper and Longfellow middle schools to the study’s scope on Mar. 9.

Longfellow Middle School is currently at 97% capacity with 1,334 students in a building for 1,374 students, though it is projected to exceed capacity going forward. Cooper Middle School has 992 students and will expand its capacity to 1,120 students after a renovation is completed around 2023.

Here are the three potential boundary adjustments that FCPS presented:

  • Option A: reassign an estimated 131 students from McLean to Langley and an estimated 53 Longfellow students to Cooper in a split feeder area that includes Colvin Run Elementary School and a portion of Westbriar Elementary School
  • Option B: reassign an estimated 190 students from McLean to Langley and an estimated 78 students from Longfellow to Cooper in the Colvin Run split feeder area, along with a portion of Westbriar and Spring Hill Elementary School
  • Option C: reassign an estimated 240 students from McLean to Langley and 113 students from Longfellow to Cooper from the Spring Hill split feeder area

FCPS Facilities Special Projects Administrator Jessica Gillis emphasized that no students attending Longfellow, Cooper, McLean, or Langley right now will be moved out of their current school.

FCPS officials also included an option for no boundary change. Projections show that both McLean and Longfellow will be over capacity for the foreseeable future, whereas Langley’s enrollment will drop to 1,855 students, or 78% of its capacity, in 2024.

With any boundary adjustment not expected to take effect until the start of the 2021-22 school year, FCPS is installing a modular with 12 classrooms at McLean High School to provide temporary capacity relief, though it will still be at 103% capacity. The school will also still have six temporary classrooms.

Dates for FCPS staff to deliver a recommendation to the Fairfax County School Board and for the board to take action after holding a public hearing have not yet been determined.

Map via FCPS

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When students at Cooper Middle School (977 Balls Hill Road) in McLean eventually do return to their classrooms, they could find their school in the middle of a sweeping overhaul.

At a School Board meeting last week, the Board unanimously approved a contract to make a series of improvements to the school, including a renovation of all systems and spaces in the building.

Some of these changes are technical and behind the scenes, but others are more prominent.

“This includes new HVAC, IT, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems in their entirety,” said John Torre, executive director of communication and community relations for Fairfax County Public Schools. “Approximately 69,000 [square feet] of new space will be added to the existing building.”

This new space includes:

  • new two story classroom addition
  • new library space
  • new courtyard
  • additional classroom space in a new second floor that will be built over a portion of the existing first floor
  • new main entrance
  • reconfigured administration space
  • cafeteria expansion
  • main gym expansion

The existing Kiss and Ride circulation outside the building will be improved in the renovations, with parking at the school reconfigured and expanded. A new paved play area will be provided, Torre said.

“This project is currently scheduled to begin in mid-October 2020 with an end date of late summer 2023,” Torre said.

Image via Google Maps

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