On a mission to innovate

Saturday, April 24, 2021
Following their presentations, GOCAPS students had an opportunity to meet individually with community members to discuss more details about their projects. Mike Gervais/mgnews@monett-times.com

GOCAPS students present their projects

Innovation was the task handed to this year’s class of GOCAPS Monett students — and they delivered.

During the CAPStone event held on April 16, dozens of local students made presentations to the community outlining various projects they completed through the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Studies (GOCAPS).

Trinity Adams shows the community her GOCAPS project, an effort to introduce first grade students to a therapy dog to help the kids gain confidence when reading. Throughout the project, the youngsters would take time to read to the dog, Trooper. Mike Gervais/mgnews@monett-times.com

Through GOCAPS, students are paired with a mentor in various fields of business throughout the community. The students choose one of six GOCAPS strands that will provide them with real-world experience in medicine and healthcare, engineering and manufacturing, education, business and IT and software solutions.

Over the course of the program, the students are charged with creating an innovation project for a business or organization within their chosen strand and work with their mentors to implement that plan.

The GOCAPS year concludes with the CAPStone event where students present their projects and their findings to the community.

Monett High School senior Kelsey Hood discusses postpartum depression at the GOCAP CAPStone event on April 15. Mike Gervais/mgnews@monett-times.com

“Six years ago, we had 15 students, and this year, we have 60 students,” said Rebecca Merriman, Monett High School GOCAPS coordinator. “We are in the business of equipping students to be the most successful they can be and these students see what innovation looks like first-hand.”

Students from the Medicine and Healthcare Strand of GOCAPS made their project presentations on April 15, discussing everything from postpartum depression to therapy dogs.

Monett High School senior Kelsey Hood’s CAPStone project was an effort to educate new mothers and their families about the realities of postpartum depression.

Gabriela Zengotita discusses her work with Mercy Hospital, helping managers re-vamp how they catalog and track feedback from patients. Mike Gervais/mgnews@monett-times.com

For her project, Hood developed small, flashcard-like information cards that educate new mothers about the symptoms and stages of postpartum depression, and is working to get up to 40 sets distributed to local maternity wards throughout the area.

Gabriela Zengotita worked with Mercy Health in Springfield to improve their patient experience tracking system to ensure that customer complaints and feedback is properly categorized and forwarded to the appropriate managers.

“They were getting patient complaints, but there was no tracking,” Zengotita said. “It was really unorganized. So I did some research on medical report tracking.”

Zengotita first proposed a selection of new tracking systems that would help Mercy organize patient comments, but managers there did not want to invest in a software. Instead, she helped organize the current system at no cost to ensure that feedback from patients is forwarded to the appropriate managers.

Berean Christian Academy senior Trinity Adams wanted to begin a program that would introduce therapy dogs into local nursing homes to improve the quality of life for local seniors.

However, due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions, she was forced to pivot and find a creative new idea.

Adams continued with her therapy dog idea, but rather than older community members, she thought of a way the dogs could help younger individuals.

Working with her mentors, Adams brought a therapy dog, Trooper, into a first-grade classroom and introduced him to three rambunctious students.

The idea was to have the students spend some quiet time reading to Trooper.

Adams said she found that the youngsters grew more excited to read, because they had an opportunity to spend time with the dog, and over time, grew more confident reading aloud and more focused when reading.

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