The impact of Ohio’s new education laws

For Ohio parents and students the 2023-2024 school year could look very different. Schools will offer more free lunches, more mental health training for staff and more vouchers to cover the cost of private tuition.

Most of those changes will take effect Oct. 3, but some major shifts in education policy and teaching methods will take months or even years. Many districts are starting to retrain their reading teachers, and grants will be awarded this fall to build new career technical centers.

Here’s what you need to know about the changes:

EdChoice scholarships

Starting in October all school-aged children will be eligible for an EdChoice scholarship to cover at least some of the costs of private education. How much families receive will be based on grade level and income.

The most a student can receive this year is $6,165 for kindergarten through eighth grade and $8,407 for high school. These amounts will be available for students with a household income at or below 450% of the federal poverty level. (That’s $78,880 for a family of two or $120,000 for a four-person family.) Here’s the breakdown for those who earn more:

  • At or below 500% of federal poverty = $5,200 and $7,050
  • At or below 550% of federal poverty = $3,650 and $5,000
  • At or below 600% of federal poverty = $2,600 and $3,550
  • At or below 650% of federal poverty = $1,850 and $2,500
  • At or below 700% of federal poverty = $1,300 and $1,750
  • At or below 750% of federal poverty = $900 and $1,250
  • Above 750% of federal poverty = $650 and $950

More: Every Ohio child will be eligible for a school voucher but many won’t be able to use them.

Students enrolled in private schools can apply for an EdChoice scholarship, even those who have never attended a public school. And though the law doesn’t officially take effect until October, families who apply before Oct. 15 will receive full scholarship amount(s) for the 2023-2024 academic year. Those who apply after that deadline will get prorated amounts.

More free lunches

Lawmakers also expanded Ohio’s free school lunch program in the state budget. All students who qualify for reduced priced meals − including those at chartered private schools will now get them for free. Districts will continue to qualify students as free or reduced, but their schools won’t collect money for the reduced lunches.

This new rule starts on Oct. 3, but the Ohio Department of Education will reimburse schools that cover their students for the first few weeks, according to an email sent to districts.

Dyslexia screening

Ohio children in kindergarten through third grade will be screened for dyslexia during the 2023-2024 school year. And schools must screen students in grades 4-6 if requested by parents or teachers.

The reason for this change is because dyslexia is a spectrum and advocates suspect many children aren’t diagnosed.

“I would say about 85% of the kids that struggle with reading, they have dyslexia, and don’t know it,” said Mike McGovern, president of the Columbus branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

The initial screening will be short, about five minutes, and it won’t confer a diagnosis of dyslexia, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Instead, the preliminary evaluation will flag children who “may be at risk of reading difficulties such as dyslexia.”

These children will be given additional monitoring and interventions. For many students, this will be enough to get them reading, McGovern said. Others will need additional screening that could lead to a diagnosis and special education.

Science of reading

Ohio’s two-year budget also changed how all students will learn to read, requiring public schools to use phonics-based curricula known as the science of reading.

This was a major priority for Gov. Mike DeWine, who repeatedly told reporters, “There is an actual science to reading, and certain things need to be taught.”

About 40% of the state’s third-graders are not proficient in reading, according to the most recent data from the Ohio Department of Education. And while COVID-19 was responsible for nationwide learning losses, 33% of children fell below that bar prior to the pandemic.

More: Gov. DeWine: Science is ‘abundantly clear,’ some Ohio schools teach reading wrong.

Many public school districts, including Columbus, have already moved to phonics-centered instruction. But for those that haven’t, the change won’t be immediate. Schools don’t have to switch until the 2024-25 school year.

Districts can spend this academic year getting ready. Lawmakers allocated $86 million for teacher training, $64million for new curriculum and $18 million for literacy coaches.

Mental health training for coaches

Ohio became the first state in the country to mandate mental health training for high school coaches when it passed the budget in June.

“It’s about the well-being of these kids,” St. Ursula lacrosse coach Todd Graham said at the time. “What can we do for these young people to help them through this difficult thing that everybody’s going through right now?”

More: ‘It’s about the well-being of these kids,’ Law requires mental health training for coaches.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health is writing the curriculum, and coaches must complete this new training when they get recertified. They can also complete the training “at any time within the duration of the individual’s new or renewed permit.”

Autism diagnoses

Parents who want to use a voucher for a child with autism will have an easier time starting this fall.

The state budget expanded the list of approved ways children can qualify for Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program. Children can be identified by their school districts, those with Individual Education Plans that “include services related to autism” and students diagnosed as autistic by a physician or a psychologist.

“In short, any student formally diagnosed as autistic now qualifies for the Autism Scholarship,” according to Disability Rights Ohio. “This is a major change that will make the scholarship accessible to many more families.”

Free menstrual products

Public, nonpublic and charter schools with students in grades 6-12 will soon have to provide free pads and tampons. The state operating budget included a $5 million appropriation to install dispensers and buy the menstrual products needed to stock them.

“We have regulated the provision of toilet paper and paper towels in public restrooms, so too we should do the same for menstrual products,” Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, said. “It’s unhygienic and a danger actually to one’s health not to have access to menstrual products, so just like toilet paper, we need to have free and accessible access.”

Some districts already offer free pads and tampons to their students, but those that don’t will be able to access those state dollars in October.

Catching the school van

Lawmakers expanded the ways public schools can transport students who choose to attend charter or private schools.

Ohio law requires districts to provide transportation for voucher and charter children, but many districts have struggled to fulfill this obligation−especially since the pandemic. The state even found itself in a lawsuit with Columbus City Schools over an $11 million fine for failing to transport their out-of-district students.

More: Judge blocks Ohio from withholding $11 million from Columbus City Schools.

So, state lawmakers added more flexibility in the budget, allowing schools to use vans and creating a pilot program where regional educational service centers can bus out-of-district students.

Career technical education

Another major priority for the DeWine administration was expanding access to career training centers across the state.

And one of the biggest barriers these schools face, according to Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, is buying the new equipment needed to expand their capacity.

The budget allocated $100 million in career tech equipment grants over the next two years. Priority will be given to centers that support careers on Ohio’s Top Jobs list like electricians and pipefitters.

More college credit in high school

Ohio hopes to train 1,000 high school teachers to teach college courses, and it allocated $6 million to do so.

The teachers will be certified through the state’s College Credit Plus program, which lets students in grades seven through 12 take free college courses that also count toward their high school graduation.

Written by Anna Staver, Legislative Reporter.

Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

Spotlight on #TeamPSI

This Summer we’ve been thinking about all the amazing people that make up #TeamPSI and we have some GREAT stories to spotlight!  We are excited to share the incredible talent and achievements of our staff members who continue to make PSI a great place to work. Here’s a glimpse of how #TeamPSI is making a difference:

HUGE shoutout to Tom Craine, PSI TESOL Teacher, Summer YOUniversity teacher and organizer of Black Beanz Dance Crew, an Akron dance group of African refugees. Most of the students in Black Beanz are from West Africa and attended Yard Corps (a Shanti Community Farms Summer Work Program). While teaching here, Tom noticed some students needed direction when they were distracted in classes – and the answer was African dance.

The result has been a wild success! The Black Beanz have been in the Top 10 Teen Dance Groups in Ohio since 2021, performed at many local and statewide events and even travelled as far as California, New York and New Mexico! In April 2023 they were awarded a Golden Ticket from the world renowned dance competition, World of Dance. Way to go Tom and the Black Beanz Dance Crew, what a success story!

HUGE shoutout to Melissa Marano who has developed “Internet Safety” and “Social Media” safety tips in Olmsted Falls. She received a 2023 grant for $1,000 for anything related to internet safety for 4th and 5th graders and their families. She also designed a fridge magnet that the families can use to “alert” them of important safety tools to help keep our kids safe from online predators and other important information – see below!

Melissa is a true community steward and has been able to help many families in many different ways… we are very thankful to have her on #TeamPSI! Here are more great events that Melissa has been able to organize:

  • Olmsted Falls giving tree– helping “those in need during the holidays” over 100 students provided every year with toys/clothes and gift cards; since 2019.
  • Charlotte’s Closet– Melissa and April Palmer collect “in-kind donations/new” clothing and hygiene items (ages 4-18) in collaboration with Olmsted Falls Community Center.
  • Monthly meetings with 5 of our community partners to discuss the needs of the community to help struggling families.
  • Melissa has helped three families who needed to leave Ukraine abruptly with nothing but a backpack of personal items on them. All of their needs were provided for while a community church was able to provide them with a temporary home.

Screentime & the Developing Brain

Earlier this month, a study published by Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child concluded that letting infants watch tablet, phone, and TV screens might have negative effects on their academic achievement and emotional well-being down the road.

This long-term study evaluated nearly 500 children using an EEG at 1, 1-1/2, and 9 years of age. Their collected data demonstrated that extended screen time in infancy was associated with poorer executive functioning skills almost a decade later. Executive functioning skills refer to the brain’s proficiency with time management, organization, self-monitoring, adaptable thinking, and working memory. We use these skills every day academically, socially, and professionally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages all screen exposure for babies under 18 months of age. That said, not all screen time is equal. Video-chatting with grandparents is a more interactive and valuable experience than passively watching animated videos. Digital educational content for infants and toddlers does exist, but for the most part that is just not how kids that age learn. The social back-and-forth is more identifiable in real life than through a screen and is particularly more impactful for younger brains. Additionally, the brightly-colored and rapidly-moving images on a screen are more activating than calming, and tend to elicit agitation in younger kids. That agitated state can be difficult to resolve when the screen is removed.

Similar results have been previously reported by the National Institutes of Health in their 2018 Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study which likewise assessed outcomes in 9 and 10 year-olds based on reported screen time at younger ages. For children who endorsed two hours of screen time daily as youngsters, their test scores for language and critical thinking problems were, on the whole, lower. For children who reported more than seven hours of screen time daily, MRI brain scans demonstrated evidence of thinning cortical tissue.

Both studies’ results suggest that increased screen time in infancy contributes to inferior development of executive functioning skills in childhood. However, more research is needed to define exactly which pathways are affected and what threshold of exposure is damaging. With more investigation, we will one day be able to better delineate the exact association between early exposure to screens and cognitive performance later on. For now, though, opting for face-to-face human interaction over digital substitutes when possible seems to have the best predictive outcome for growing brains, both cognitively and emotionally.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

Vaping Guidance

From 2011 to 2019, the CDC reported a 900% increase in vaping for teens in high school.

Vaping refers to the inhalation of aerosolized particles of a drug (marijuana or nicotine), mixed with flavoring. Most vaping devices contain a battery for power, a heating element, a place to insert the drug-containing liquid that will be heated until it vaporizes, and a mouthpiece.

Vaping was initially developed to help adults quit smoking, but quickly became popular among teenagers.


And while current reports estimate about 30% of high schoolers have vaped or currently vape, 5% of middle schoolers admit to the same.

On a chemical level, the nicotine salt delivered from a vape pen is far more powerful than the nicotine free-base that cigarette smokers inhale. This makes vaping nicotine extremely addicting. Studies show that teens who vape are 7 times more likely to smoke as adults. And over half the high schoolers polled admitted to having had their first vaping experience at age 11 or younger.

The immature frontal cortex of a teenager’s developing brain is uniquely susceptible to the harmful effects of nicotine. Regular use can cause long-term irreversible deficits in memory, attention, and concentration, and also mood disorders and permanent impairment of impulse control. Tobacco use in adolescence can also prime the brain for addiction to other stimulants of abuse like cocaine and methamphetamines.

Vaping is a $22 billion industry worldwide, with Juul being the predominant brand of electronic cigarette. Advertisements that falsely claim vaping is safer than smoking, along with child-friendly flavorings like birthday cake and mango, drive a powerful marketing campaign aimed at hooking younger consumers. The Surgeon General accurately labeled teen vaping an epidemic, and it’s a gravely dangerous one: nicotine-related deaths kill more adult Americans every year than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drug abuse, murder, and suicide COMBINED. Let’s work together to keep our kids from vaping. It might even save their lives.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

Separation Anxiety in Children

As the school year gets underway, we start the weekday routine of saying goodbye as parents leave for work and children leave for school. For some, however, this parting of ways and the time leading up to it can be paralyzingly scary. Sometimes there’s an event to blame, perhaps a change in the family dynamic, like parents separating, the birth of a sibling, or a move to a new home or school. Other times, kids may be overly fearful for no obvious reason. Particularly for young children starting school for the first time, breaking away from the safety of their home and parents can be understandably anxiety-provoking. Whether we understand why or not, our job as parents and teachers is to help smooth that transition and make sure every child feels safe.

To help kids learn the language they need to communicate these fears and feel heard, and to assist us as adults to reinforce the message that even when our kids of out of sight, they’re not out of mind, here are a few children’s books that might help ease the separation.


Excellent rhymes help this book skip along while Little Llama experiences first-day jitters at his new school.

I LOVE YOU ALL DAY LONG (Francesca Rusackas)

Owen worries about separating from his mom, but she reassures him that he’s in her thoughts even when they’re not together.


Not just for established Daniel Tiger fans, this book explains that the time away from each other is just temporary. There is a Daniel Tiger episode on the topic as well, that includes a “Grown-Ups Come Back” song.

THAT’S ME LOVING YOU (Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

From a prolific author of books for children and adults, this story reminds the child that they can recognize their parent’s love in everything around them.



Instead of highlighting the separation, this book focuses on all the things we can look forward to once we’re reunited after our day apart.


This book covers not only separating for school or work, but also other life circumstances that keep us apart when we’d prefer to be together.

OWL BABIES (Martin Waddell)

When three owlets wake up overnight to discover their mother is missing, they worry. Children will relate to the little owls’ unease and their attempts to be brave.

We’ve all been there, rushing through the morning, praying to avoid a loud, ugly scene at the bus stop or at daycare drop-off. Any opportunity to reassure our children that our love is enduring, despite distance, is a chance to make them feel loved and valued, and to strengthen our relationship with them. Allowing them to feel safe also affords us a smoother transition and a more productive morning routine. And starting out on a positive note often sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Adequate preparation and messaging in anticipation of separating can make the morning goodbyes more pleasant for everyone involved.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

What’s new in COVID boosters?

The FDA has approved an emergency use authorization for a new bivalent booster shot to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about these new vaccines.

Q: What is a bivalent vaccine?

A: Bivalent refers to the two separate virus strains whose mRNA instructions are included in the new booster vaccine. The original, or “ancestral,” COVID strain that circulated at the beginning of the pandemic, plus the current dominant strain, the BA.4/BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. It’s not uncommon to have more than one strain of a virus incorporated into a vaccine, for instance the annual flu shot is quadrivalent, meaning it’s comprised of four different flu virus strains.

Q: Who is eligible for this new booster?

A: These vaccines can be used as a first booster (after the primary series of COVID vaccines is complete) or the second booster (as long as at least two months have passed since the first booster). Moderna’s version is available to those 18 years and older, and the Pfizer-BioNTech brand is approved for ages 12 and up.

Q: Can this be used in patients who haven’t completed a primary COVID vaccine series?

A: No, the mRNA dose in the booster vaccine is lower than what is contained in the primary vaccines. Its efficacy is only studied as a booster dose and not as a primary vaccine.

Q: Does it matter which brand of vaccine was used for the primary series?

A: It does not. Both the Moderna and Pfizer brands can be used in patients who meet age and primary vaccine requirements, regardless of which vaccines they received as their primary series or previous booster shots.

Q: Should people who had a recent COVID infection get this booster?

A: While there is no perfect answer, the prevailing wisdom currently suggests that most healthy individuals will maintain a good immune response for at least 90 days after a COVID infection, essentially functioning as a booster dose.

Q: Why is this relevant? Isn’t the pandemic just about over?

A: Unfortunately in the United States, we continue to see a death rate from COVID of about 400 people per day. While that’s much lower than the more than 4,000 daily deaths reported in the US in January of 2021, it’s still significant. With mask mandates disappearing, more relaxed standards for physical distancing, school starting, and the anticipation of colder weather on the horizon that will move people indoors, this booster is one way to limit spread and severity of disease.

Q: Does this booster shot guarantee a person won’t get COVID-19?

A: The goal of broad-reaching vaccination campaigns is to reduce what the medical community calls morbidity (the severity of sickness) and mortality (death) for large populations. COVID vaccines are no exception. The goal in vaccinating the public was to reduce the burden of serious illness and loss of life. Don’t forget that early in this pandemic, hospitals were running out of staff and space for COVID patients. Vaccination works to reduce people’s viral load, which translates into milder symptoms, lower rates of contagion, fewer community outbreaks and therefore less of an opportunity for viral mutation into a new more dangerous strain, and of course fewer deaths.

Q: Have there been human studies on the new COVID-19 boosters?

A: The data has been extrapolated from studies on mice. While that might discourage some people, keep in mind that every year a new flu vaccine is formulated using different strains of virus and it doesn’t necessitate new human trials with each new configuration. Similarly, the COVID-19 vaccine didn’t change much except for the addition of this Omicron-specific strain. Waiting to collect data from human trials would negate the attempt to protect people before the anticipated increase in COVID cases over the winter.

Q: Will this be the last booster dose?

A: It’s impossible to predict with any certainty which direction this virus will go, but the greater percentage of people in the community that have protection against contracting COVID-19, the less likely we are to see another surge of serious illness in the population.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

In Case of Emergency with Dr. Carly Wilbur

Would you know how to respond in an emergency situation?

Some of us learned CPR in high school or for a babysitting class, but how many adults keep up with these skills? No one ever plans to be in an emergency situation, but quick thinking in a crisis can potentially mean the difference between life and death. Here are a few examples of emergency situations where recognizing the problem and knowing how to react could lead to rapid reversal.

BURNS—A first-degree burn makes the skin warm to the touch and pink. This is what a simple sunburn looks like. A second-degree burn creates blisters on the skin. If someone has been burned, immediately expose the area to cold water. This reverses the thermal injury and halts the progression of damage to the skin. A wet-to-dry dressing (moist bandage touching the skin and dry bandage outside of that) will do until proper medical attention can be sought.

ALLERGIC REACTION—Allergic responses range from sneezing to respiratory failure. Exposures to an allergen can trigger sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, rash (including but not limited to hives), itchy mouth, narrowing of the airway, facial swelling, and vomiting. The most severe kind of allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Insect stings, food ingestions, and medications are the leading culprits in anaphylactic reactions. An appropriately-dosed Epi-Pen (for under 60 lbs an Epi-Pen Jr, and for over 60 lbs a full-strength Epi-Pen) should help halt the progression of an anaphylactic attack. Immediate removal of the offending allergen, if possible, and delivery of Epinephrine should happen while emergency personnel are contacted.

POISONING—Finding a toddler chowing down on Tide pods, chewing fistfuls of Grandma’s blood pressure pills, or drinking Windex is harrowing. After removing the child from danger, call the Poison Control hotline at (800)222-1222. Try to have the name and dose of any ingested prescription medications available for that phone call. Do not try to induce vomiting; caustic substances will damage tissue for a second time on the way up the esophagus. For safety purposes, it is recommended that cleaning and laundry supplies be kept in a high-up cabinet that locks. Medications should certainly be kept out of reach of children and should be dispensed with child-safe lids.

OPIOID OVERDOSE—Signs of opioid or narcotic overdose (from medications like prescription pain killers) include pale and clammy skin, subdued respiratory drive, stupor, and sometimes vomiting. Narcotic medications are meant to dull pain, but too big a dose can be fatal. Street drugs can contain traces of Fentanyl, an extraordinarily addictive, powerful, and dangerous medication that can easily cause accidental overdose. A patient overdosed on narcotics may have very small pupils, itchy and pale skin, slurred speech, and a slack or droopy appearance. Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, is now carried by most emergency workers, include police officers. Many schools stock it as well. It can be utilized as an injectable, but it is available as a one-dose nasal spray that anyone can deliver.

CARDIAC ARREST—In adults, heart attacks are often the result of years of untreated high cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, high blood pressure, or smoking, but in children this is not the case. Young people can suffer cardiac arrest if there is interruption of the normal electronic rhythm of the heart (due to electrocution, direct chest trauma, or medication overdose) or if there is underlying heart disease (Rheumatic valve damage, cardiomyopathy, infectious carditis). Damar Hamlin’s recent televised cardiac event after tackling a fellow NFL player raised awareness of heart attack risk in young people. Because he had access to an AED (Automatic Electronic Defibrillator) that could deliver a shock to his heart, his life was saved. Most sports arenas, schools, and gyms have EADs on site, and they come with instructions for the layperson to operate them correctly. For it to work, it’s vital that intervention happen in the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest, so knowing where to find the AED quickly is critical.

CHOKING—When food “goes down the wrong pipe”, it can get lodged in the airway and obstruct airflow. In the right setting (a restaurant or meal), a person who puts their hands up to the throat and starts sputtering should sound the alarm for a choking episode. Swift intervention is key, including performing the Heimlich maneuver, where the rescuer essentially hugs the patient from behind and delivers upward thrusts with grasped fists toward the diaphragm. Should the patient fall unconscious, gently lie them on their back and continue to provide an upward pushing motion just below the ribcage to encourage the offending morsel to be dislodged. There may be an instinct to reach inside the patient’s mouth to grab the item, but experts warn against a “blind sweep” of the mouth and throat, lest the item get unintentionally pushed down even further.

INJURY—High-speed collisions (car or bike or skiing accidents) can result in broken bones, concussions, internal organ damage, or lacerations that require repair. If there is even a question of head or neck injury, patients should not be moved until emergency care workers arrive. The risk of causing further damage (and possibly paralysis) from manipulating the spine is real, and should only be attempted if the patient can’t otherwise breathe.

SEIZURE—Whether a person has a known history of seizures or is having their first one, it can be scary to experience, even as an observer. Making sure the patient is safe from compounded injury (so, on the floor and away from sharp corners) is important. There are injectable medications that can stop a prolonged seizure, so finding out if the patient has that with them may help. The duration of seizure activity can drive the medical investigation, so if possible, try to note the time that a witnessed seizure starts and stops.

BLEEDING—Whether it’s an injury or a nosebleed, the best first step is to apply pressure to the site. In the case of an injury, there may be an open wound (cuts or scrapes) or a foreign body (nail or splinter). Applying a moist, clean towel to the area should help the blood clot without sticking to the cloth. For nosebleeds, have the patient sit down, lean forward (but not facing downward), and pinch the nose. Tissue that is rolled up and inserted into the nose can serve the same purpose. Ice or a cold pack will help to constrict blood vessels and slow bleeding as well.

In general, emergency medical situations warrant involvement from emergency medical personnel. If you encounter an unconscious, injured, choking, bleeding, or seizing individual, calling 911 is always a smart move. A quick-thinking and informed “good Samaritan”, however, can drastically change the outcome, and could even mean the difference between life and death.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

Teen Invents World’s First Sustainable EV Motor

Robert Sansone’s research could pave the way for the sustainable manufacturing of electric vehicles that do not require rare-earth magnets – and he’s only 17 years old!

Robert Sansone is a natural born engineer. From animatronic hands to high-speed running boots and a go-kart that can reach speeds of more than 70 miles per hour, the Fort Pierce, Florida-based inventor estimates he’s completed at least 60 engineering projects in his spare time. And he’s only 17 years old.

A couple years ago, Sansone came across a video about the advantages and disadvantages of electric cars. The video explained that most electric car motors require magnets made from rare-earth elements, which can be costly, both financially and environmentally, to extract. The rare-earth materials needed can cost hundreds of dollars per kilogram. In comparison, copper is worth $7.83 per kilogram.

“I have a natural interest in electric motors,” says Sansone, who had used them in different robotics projects. “With that sustainability issue, I wanted to tackle it, and try and design a different motor.”

The highschooler had heard of a type of electric motor—the synchronous reluctance motor—that doesn’t use these rare-earth materials. This kind of motor is currently used for pumps and fans, but it isn’t powerful enough by itself to be used in an electric vehicle. So, Sansone started brainstorming ways he could improve its performance.

Over the course of a year, Sansone created a prototype of a novel synchronous reluctance motor that had greater rotational force—or torque—and efficiency than existing ones. The prototype was made from 3-D printed plastic, copper wires and a steel rotor and tested using a variety of meters to measure power and a laser tachometer to determine the motor’s rotational speed. His work earned him first prize, and $75,000 in winnings, at this year’s Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest international high school STEM competition.

Click here for the full article from Smithsonian Magazine.

Find out how PSI is bringing STEM to summer classrooms everywhere!

Debunking Medical Myths



Incorrect! Going outside in the wintertime—whether you’re wearing a scarf or have wet hair—isn’t what raises your risk for illness. Seasonal circulation of certain illnesses, particularly Influenza, and the indoor gathering of crowds due to uncomfortable outdoor conditions are what drives the numbers of cold weather illness up. Any increased stress on your body, like exhaustion, underlying illness, or pregnancy, can also intensify your risk for illness.



Not necessarily. Certain drinks actually dehydrate us. Caffeine (in soda and coffee) and alcohol shouldn’t count toward the total number of ounces of water per day since their chemical components actually encourage the body to lose water. More active individuals, like athletes, will likely need to step up their hydration. Children’s requirements are lower than adults due to smaller body size overall.



Untrue! Metabolic studies tracking the brain’s utilization of fuel reveal no dormant areas. Functional MRI testing has failed to demonstrate the latent 90% of unutilized gray matter.



You can! Every woman’s cycle is different, and even for each individual, it can vary from month to month. Any incidence of unprotected sexual activity can result in a pregnancy. The “rhythm method” used by some couples to avoid getting pregnant during a woman’s most fertile time of her cycle is incredibly unreliable.



Nope. While trying to use your eyes in an environment with insufficient light can cause muscle strain from squinting, and infrequent blinking that can dry out the eyes, ophthalmologists generally agree that these are not lasting effects.



False. Action taken on one hair follicle effects only that one hair follicle. Hair cells are not vengeful nor are they vindictive, so while it might feel like it’s the plucking of the hair that prompts more of them to arrive, it’s more likely just the probability of a person with one gray hair growing other gray hairs.



They are not. All of the “holes” in your head drain into the back of your nose and throat. That means the sinuses, eyes (through the tear ducts), and ears (through the Eustachian tubes) all provide a path for nasal congestion to drain. When the nose is stuffy, though, it interrupts this drainage and allows fluid to back up into the sinuses, eyes, and ears. Standing fluid tends to get infected (picture a fish tank without a filter) and fluid stuck behind the ear drum is no exception. So while ear infections themselves can’t be passed from one person to another, the cold that caused the congestion that triggered the ear infection can.



This one is true! The amount of pressure that is built up in the lungs in preparation for a sneeze is significant. Sneezed air and respiratory droplets can travel up to 100 miles an hour! That pressure has to go somewhere, and contained sneezes not only risk damage to the blood vessels of the nose, throat, and brain, but also can potentially cause hearing loss.

From UH Pediatrician and PSI Medical Expert – Dr. Carly Wilbur.

Click here for more great insights from Dr. Wilbur.

Find out how PSI makes health a priority every day.