Middle-Schoolers Win $100K for Flood Prevention

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2020

At the beginning of the month, a group of middle-school students from Downtown Doral Charter Upper School in Doral, Florida, was named one of five National Winners in the 10th-Annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

The contest is hosted by Samsung Electronics America, Inc.

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow

Created in 2010, the contest is reported to encourage sixth- through 12th-grade students and teachers to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

Since its inception, the program has awarded $18 million in Samsung technology and classroom materials to more than 2,500 public schools in the nation.

This year, teachers were asked to submit applications between Aug. 29, 2019, through Oct. 27, with the first round taking place between Nov. 14 and Dec. 4. During that period, the Doral Family Journal announced that Downtown Doral Charter Upper School had made the cut as a Florida State Finalist in the competition.

In January, Samsung announced that 100 classrooms would be advancing in the $300 million contest (a $1 million pool prize increase as compared to other years). The money would help to recognize at least one school in every state.

“Samsung is extremely proud of the evolution of the Solve for Tomorrow platform over the past 10 years: fueling students’ passion and curiosity to tackle issues that affect their communities in unexpected and creative ways,” said Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America, said at the time.

“Reading the innovative proposals students and teachers have put forth this year exemplifies what we know to be true for every student—that young minds have just as much to teach as they do to learn. Our guiding citizenship vision is ‘Enabling People,’ and we are thrilled to celebrate another year of empowering future innovators to achieve their full potential through STEM learning.”

By March, 20 National Finalists in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest were announced, with Downtown Doral Charter Upper School still in the running. Each National Finalists was already slated to receive $50,000 in Samsung technology and classroom supplies, and a trip to New York City where they would pitch their projects to a panel of judges.

This month, Samsung officially named the five National Winners of the contest, although the pitching event in New York City had been postponed due to COVID-19. The winners were announced in a Virtual Celebration Event on June 4.

The awardees each received $100,000 in technology and classroom supplies for their school, along with a trip to Washington, D.C., where they would present their projects to Congress members.

“Samsung is deeply troubled by the events that have happened in our country recently and our hearts go out to the people and communities across the nation who are hurting,” said Woo. “During these difficult times, we remain committed to supporting and empowering our youth, who have worked tirelessly all year in a rapidly changing world, and honoring their hard work so they may shine and pave the way as problem-solvers and changemakers who build hope for our future.

“It may be hard to imagine how positivity can come from challenging times, but we believe they can be the source of creativity and innovation of new pathways. For the past 10 years, Solve for Tomorrow has encouraged students to identify the issues facing their communities and we are proud of the work these students have done to take action.”

Flood Mitigation Technology and More

For their project, sixth-grade students Alyssa Neuber, Bianca Verri and Jose Pirela, along with their science teacher, Rebeca Martinez, all from Downtown Doral Charter Upper School, crafted a device to warn city workers when and where there is flood danger.

The students chose this real-life community issue as Doral, Florida, often experiences large amounts of precipitation, especially during summer and hurricane season, leading to floods and other issues.

“I’ve been living here my entire life, and all of us have encountered problems with flooding,” Verri told The Washington Post. “We knew that was the problem we were going to tackle.”

According to reports, the students crafted a device that detects sediment build-up, sediment density and shares that information in real-time with local officials when structures need immediate cleaning and maintenance.

The device uses a light detection and ranging laser system called “lidar” which is capable of being attached to storm and manhole drains.

In the project, each student possessed a specific task: Pirela focused on problem solving and coding, Neuber worked on cost calculations and Verri studied how lidar would work. Class parents who are employed engineers and website coders also aided in the project.

The other four National Winners include:

  • Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon, California) created a low-cost wildfire alert system that can detect wind speed, humidity and temperature;
  • Fairfield High School (Fairfield, Ohio) created a device that can detect an unknown weight remaining in the car seat of a vehicle, which connects to an app that alerts car owners before they move too far away from the vehicle;
  • North Carolina School of Science and Math (Durham, North Carolina) developed an app that uses image processing and machine learning algorithms to help people separate recyclables and non-recyclables; and
  • Omro High School (Omro, Wisconsin) built a sensor capable of determining ice thickness in real-time and relay that information via app, Stat-Ice, to help winter enthusiasts make educated decisions about going out on the ice.

In addition, Ashland Middle School in Ashland, Kentucky, was named as the contest’s Community Choice Winner for generating the most public votes online for their device, which helps mobility-impaired students be able to escape a multi-level building in a fire and an app to alert school officials of their location. As the Community Choice Winner, the students won an additional $10,000 in technology for their school, in addition to $50,000 in technology for being named a National Finalist.


Tagged categories: Competitions; Contests; Environmental Controls; NA; North America; Stormwater; Technology

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