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Hovercraft Propels Former Patterson High Students To White House

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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Hours of brainstorming for a group of Baltimore City students ends up with a trip to the White House this week. The invitation came because of a solar-powered science project.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the group has a business plan to turn their project into a household item.

Roundtable discussions among five former Patterson High students led to a battery and solar powered hovercraft toy. It’s two years in the making, but this week, President Obama wanted to see it himself at the fourth annual White House Science Fair.

“Not often people get to go there. And just being there gives you a hope that you could be something,” said Abhishek Yonghang, former Patterson High student.

Only 30 science groups from around the country were selected to participate in the fair. Patterson’s team built the toy while they were students in the school’s Project Lead the Way, which focuses on classes in science, engineering, technology and math–also called STEM.

“Some wanted to make a helicopter. Some wanted to make a car that uses energy,” said Iragena Bangamwabo, former Patterson High student.

In the end, they decided on something with cheap supplies that’s eco-friendly and would get other kids back to nature.

“A thing to help us get kids out there, go outside,” said Bangamwabo.

Their hovercraft started winning competitions wherever it was entered.

“These kids graduated. They have jobs. They’re in college,” said Sharon Ball, Patterson High engineering teacher. “But they still managed to come up to the school two or three times a week to work on this project.”

They have a business plan to one day build a hovercraft for people. And they may have already identified a customer.

“I believe that the military will buy this,” said Jevaughn Taylor, former Patterson High student.

They say they fully expect to head back to the White House one day once their hovercraft becomes a household name.

The science team says the next step is developing a remote-controlled version of their hovercraft.

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