If you see teenagers driving around town with a black box on the dashboard, chances are they’re conducting an experiment.

A team at Central Magnet School is competing in the national “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow” STEM competition. Central Magnet advanced as one of two state winners; a team from Discovery School had competed for a state title but did not advance.

The 10th annual national competition encourages students in grades 6 to 12 to use STEM skills to solve a community challenge. There were more than 2,000 entries across the nation.

The Central team consists of Carty Woodruff, Gabriel Carver and Nathan Cardel. Using open source software, they built a device, dubbed “The Car Coach,” that detects when a driver is distracted, said teacher Marc Guthrie.

Tests were scheduled to start last week, the team said. Test drivers will include Central Magnet students and Guthrie’s children.

Features of the device include circuit boards wired with a Bluetooth device, camera and sound sensor, which will be placed inside a plastic case printed by a 3D printer. The Bluetooth connects the sensors to a phone app, Carty said. The camera detects if the driver’s face is turned away from the road, while the sound sensor detects if music in the car is too loud.

The results are available for review in an app, the team said. They said the system could possibly be sold to companies with drivers, such as Uber, or trucking companies.

Central Magnet’s team is one of 100 finalists from around the nation, each of which received $15,000 for the schools, Guthrie said. He said he wants to buy more 3D printers for his class, among other tools.

Central Magnet will know March 5 if its team is one of 20 finalists who will present their devices at an event in New York, Guthrie said. Those finalists will be narrowed down to five final winners, each of which will receive $100,000.

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