TULSA - Three 8th graders from Jenks Middle School have won a regional competition by developing an inexpensive, do-it-yourself way to turn an interior room of a home into a storm shelter.
Rebecca Mackey, Riya Kaul, and Hayden Hilst style themselves the "Knightettes of the Twisters."
Their goal, Mackey tells KRMG, was to build a shelter that -- while not necessarily up to FEMA standards -- was very affordable, and offered significantly better protection from a tornado than a normal interior room.
They tested five materials, eventually building a composite which they tested by dropping weights onto samples from a crane.
"We dropped two weights, a thirty-pound and a twenty-pound weight, and then we did another test with a baseball pitching machine, and that was about 50 feet away with a baseball going about 100 miles an hour," Mackey said.
"The first couple tests, of course, were a little rough, but then once we got more layers... it held up really well. Then we got to our fifth test and there was barely any damage. We were really proud of it."
She said for a 4x8 room, to cover three walls, they spent less than $500.
The team won state and regional levels of the U.S. Army-sponsored eCYBERMISSION competition.
They'll now go on to compete in the finals.