Aiden Bruder didn’t want to do your average science fair project. No baking-soda volcanos, experiments about mold or crystals.
The eighth-grader from Rocky River, who attends St. Raphael School in Bay Village, had bigger things in mind. As an advocate for police officers and an avid fan of the show “Live PD,” Aiden wanted his project to include law enforcement.
After considering his options, he settled on a topic aptly named “The Fast and the Furious.”
His hypothesis? Motorists will drive slower if there is a radar sign that flashes their speed than they would if there is a “children at play” yard sign or no signs at all.
“So far we’ve been extremely, extremely surprised that I’ve gotten it spot-on,” Aiden said. “It was very surprising and shocking. It was such a specific hypothesis.”
In pursuing this question, Aiden got a big boost from the Rocky River Police Department. After Aiden met with Lt. George Lichman in October, the department offered the use of one of its hand-held LIDAR (light detection and ranging) laser speed devices to accurately record drivers’ speeds.
“When (Aiden) asked about wanting to run his project, I thought that was a great idea,” Lichman said. “It was him doing the work. He wasn’t just looking to use the data that we collect anyway. That also encouraged me to be as helpful as possible. We’re curious to learn the results ourselves.”
Lichman emphasized that what the department did for Aiden was small compared to the work the eighth-grader is doing.
Since Oct. 29, Aiden has spent every Tuesday and Thursday before and after school, as well as Saturday afternoons, monitoring motorists speeds’ at Bates and Detroit roads, where the posted speed limit is 35 mph. Aiden recorded his final round of speed detection last week using a radar speed sign police set up at the same corner.
Aiden recorded his data by breaking down the vehicles’ speeds into categories: 30-34 mph, 35-39 mph, 40-44 mph, 45-50 mph and 50+ mph. He also accounted for the weather at the time. The data was also broken down into whether the vehicle recorded was a car, a truck or an SUV.
Aiden recorded the speed of 454 vehicles. With no signs (157 vehicles), he measured 103 vehicles at 30-34 mph, which was at or below the speed limit. He recorded 48 at 35-39 mph; four at 40-44 mph; and two at 45-50 mph. With a child at play sign posted (176 vehicles), he measured 93 vehicles at 30-34 mph, 59 at 35-39 mph; 12 at 40-44 mph and two at 45-50 mph.
One week, Aiden posted a “children at play sign” in a yard and measured speeds. Another week, he did not post a sign and measured speeds. Another week Lichman posted a radar speed sign and Aiden measured speeds.
In the days Aiden used the department’s radar speed sign (121 vehicles), he recorded 77 vehicles at 30-34 mph; 34 at 35-39 mph, nine at 40-44 mph and one at 45-50 mph. None exceeded 50 mph.
Because of Aiden’s interest in law enforcement, his father, Rob Bruder, suggested that he approach the police department.
“It’s just been a sigh of relief that he’s got this much interest in it,” his father said. “It’s a data-collection project to the point he hasn’t done before.”
When he initially met with police, Aiden asked to use a radar speed sign. LIDAR never entered the conversation. Lichman proposed he use the department’s LIDAR device.
Now, Aiden must organize the data to create charts and lab books and get his project ready for his Jan. 24 presentation. Should he excel in the eyes of the judges there, Aiden could go on to the regional, state or even national competition.
The past two years, Aiden has received third-place and honorable-mention awards for projects involving testing which voice assistant is most efficient between Siri, Alexa, Google Home and Microsoft’s Cortana and which video games and consoles raise your heart rate the most.
Aiden said the help he received from Lichman and the police department was invaluable.
“I just can’t thank them enough for all the support they’ve given a 13-year-old boy.” he said.
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