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Pothole app lands Franklin Regional students in top 10

| Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 10:36 a.m.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, teacher Amy Smith shows the cellphone app Franklin Regional students created to map potholes using GPS technology.
Submitted photo
Above, in the back are Jackson Hatfield, Riley Rizzer. In front, Caroline Taddonio, Hannah Scholze, Danielle Farabaugh. The group developed a cellphone app to track and record potholes.

With more than 250,000 miles of road in Pennsylvania, encountering potholes is an all-but-guaranteed problem.

Franklin Regional students found a potential solution that landed them among the top 10 state finalists in the Governor's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Competition.

Caroline Taddonio, Jackson Hatfield, Hannah Scholze, Riley Rizzer and Danielle Farabaugh created a smartphone app that allows users to record, to within five feet, a pothole they encounter on the road.

“There's an attribute chart so you can put in the characteristics of the pothole: depth, width and what municipality and county,” said Taddonio, 17, who will be a senior in the fall.

The group came up with the idea during a brainstorming session and presented it to science teacher Amy Smith.

“Amy's husband works with GPS and mapping programs, and we asked him to help us develop it, then we put together something the public could use,” Taddonio said.

Using geographic information system mapping software, Smith said the group plotted potholes in Murrysville and along the way to the state STEM competition held at Thaddeus Stevens College in Lancaster.

“They picked a common problem and looked at different ways to address it,” Smith said.

Hatfield, 16, who will be a junior, said the app included two separate access portals.

“We had two sites: one public and one for a municipality to use that was password-protected,” he said.

In exchange for receiving the GIS software license for free from Esri, the company that developed it, the students are prohibited from profiting from the app.

Hatfield and Taddonio said they enjoyed working on the app.

“I just like seeing our group come together and work hard to the program great,” Hatfield said.

Taddonio agreed.

“We had a lot of fun, and the project really came together well,” she said.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.

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