UTAH

Utah middle schoolers invent device to prevent bird strikes

Aug 18, 2017, 7:30 AM | Updated: 8:12 am

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — A group of four Utah tweens is getting nationally recognized for inventing a device to keep away birds from planes.

Bird strikes have been happening for years – there were more than 200 in 2015 at Salt Lake International — but after learning about “The Miracle on the Hudson,” the 12-year-olds from Sandy, Utah wanted to do something more about it.

Abigail Slama-Catron, Allison Drennan, Eric Snaufer and Timothy Holt are on a First Lego League team together. Working with the Salt Lake International Airport, they researched robotic bait, greasing bridges, power washing nests and more.

“We also looked at a sound system, but within a week the bird got used to it, so that didn’t fly. Sorry, bad pun,” said Eric.

“We found a Cornell University study that shows that random motion scares birds away,” said Abigail.

Blueprints, prototypes, drilling, sewing, and experimenting led them to the final product, which they call the Bionic Scarecrow.

It’s basically a small battery powered wind sock air dancer, and it works.

“When we tested it at the airport, they said that was the first time the birds had stayed away,” said Allison.

“If you look inside, it’s just battery, fuse, switch, etc,” said Timothy.

The battery makes the air flow push the into the orange wind sock so that it flaps in the air.

They built six. Three of them are now being used at the Salt Lake International Airport to drastically cut down the amount of geese, ducks, and other birds near the runways.

“We use them in nesting locations here at the airport. We can even float them in the water, to prevent ducks from coming and roosting in those areas,” said the airport’s wildlife biologist, Bobby Boswell.

“We had problems using other dispersal techniques in those areas,” he said. “No one has ever scaled this down to this scale. They are tough, they are cheap, and they are mobile,” he said in a YouTube video put together by the team.

Abigail, Allison, Eric and Tim met at Sunrise Elementary School. Now as they start two different middle schools, they are getting nationally recognized for their bionic scarecrow. In July, they accepted an award at the regional EPA office in Denver. They are presenting at the North American Bird Strike Conference in Dallas on August 23 before going to Washington DC to accept another award.

Now they say they are looking to the future. They have a patent and may start a business. They have heard from other airports and industries – like those connected with anything from beaches to oil pits — who are interested in how the device can help them.

“We have a target of 216 airports, mainly along bird migratory routes or near wetlands,” said Allison. “And Hill Air Force Base,” added Eric.

“We are just trying to help the world as we can because it is up to our generation to make the world better,” said Abigail.

To learn more about the team and their invention, you can visit their Facebook page or their GoFundMe page as they raise funds to take the trips to Texas and Washington, D.C.

Today’s Top Stories

Utah

Photo of Riverton Police, the ones who sent out the amber alert, vehicle...
Mark Jones

8-year-old boy struck by car in Riverton, suffers head injury

Riverton police an 8-year-old boy suffered a head injury Friday night after a collision with a vehicle. The boy was transported to Primary Children's Hospital.
1 day ago
Utah deadliest days UHP investigates double fatal accident....
Mark Jones

One person dead in three-vehicle crash in southern Utah

The Utah Highway Patrol reports that one person died Friday following a three-vehicle crash in southern Utah. One other person was transported to the hospital with injuries.
1 day ago
Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
1 day ago
Two people have been gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park in less than a week. An expert at ...
Mark Jones

Expert says to give bison their space and distance

An expert at Antelope Island State Park says bison need to be given their space and distance. This message comes after two people were gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park
1 day ago
The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Weste...
Lindsay Aerts

Fourth of July weekend weather conditions ripe for fires

The National Weather Service of Salt Lake City says there is a red flag warning in effect for Western Utah. It warns that many fires are human caused.
1 day ago
Salt Lake County is working to make sure its golf courses don't use as much water in the drought....
Martha Harris

Salt Lake County says it has decreased water-use on its golf courses

Salt Lake County says it has back water usage on its golf courses. The county says it has done by changing how they water.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Utah middle schoolers invent device to prevent bird strikes