Public schools named grand prize winners in $3 million* 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest
During a livestream virtual celebration event, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. announced today the five National Grand Prize Winners in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest – a $3 million* national competition that challenges public school students in grades 6-12 to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address real-world change in their communities. Each National Winner school will receive $100,000 in technology and supplies to meet the needs of their classrooms.
Five National Winners were selected following the competition’s first-ever Virtual Pitch Event where students and teachers collaborated remotely to virtually present their STEM projects to a panel of judges. From recycling and sustainability to child safety and wildlife prevention, each National Grand Prize Winner responded to an issue that is impacting their local communities, developing creative STEM innovations using problem-based learning throughout the academic school year.
“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. 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,” said Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “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.”
The five National Winners in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest and their grand prize-winning STEM projects are:
1. Dougherty Valley High School – San Ramon, California
Last year in California alone, 6,200 fires ravished the Pacific coast, 2,300 buildings were destroyed, and more than 100 people were killed. The majority of fires in California are caused by dry hills surrounding suburban areas and slow relay of information to the fire department. The students created a low-cost sensor that can detect wind speed, humidity, and temperature, indicating a possible risk of fire in a particular area, and relaying that information back to the local fire department early.
View Dougherty Valley High School’s project video:
2. Downtown Doral Charter Upper School – Doral, Florida
Flash Flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. The city of Doral receives large amounts of precipitation especially during summer and hurricane season, but sediment obstruction and poor drainage have led to drainage system failures and flooding. The students created a device to detect sediment build-up and share real-time updates on the density of sediments in drains to local officials when structures need immediate cleaning and maintenance.
View Downtown Doral Charter Upper School’s project video:
3. Fairfield High School – Fairfield, Ohio
There are far too many child fatalities due to heat strokes from being locked in a hot car. There was a record high of 51 deaths in 2018. Since 1998, Ohio has had twenty reported deaths – the largest number of accidents in any northern state. The students developed a device that detects 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.
View Fairfield High School’s project video:
4. North Carolina School of Science and Math – Durham, North Carolina
An estimated 25% of recycling is contaminated by waste, making cross-contamination a tremendous problem for recycling centers across the country. The students created an app that uses image processing and machine learning algorithms to help people separate recyclables and non-recyclables
View North Carolina School of Science and Math’s project video:
5. Omro High School – Omro, Wisconsin
Ice fishing is prevalent in Wisconsin, and 230,000 snowmobiles use trails that go over the frozen water. Nationwide, nearly 8,000 people fall through the ice and drown each year. The students built a sensor that can determine 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.
View Omro High School’s project video:
In addition to the five National Winners, Ashland Middle School in Ashland, Kentucky, was named this year’s Community Choice Winner for generating the most public votes online for their device to help mobility-impaired students 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 have won an additional $10,000* in technology for their school, in addition to $50,000 in technology for being named a National Finalist.
View Ashland Middle School’s project video:
The five National Winners and one Community Choice Award Winner were revealed in a Virtual Celebration Event, which brought together dozens of students and teachers from the 20 National Finalist schools. The event included remarks from Samsung executives and Solve for Tomorrow alumni and can be seen here.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Solve for Tomorrow, Samsung increased the prize pool and the number of winners throughout each phase of the contest. After submitting project ideas last October, the five National Winners were selected from thousands of schools nationwide and progressed throughout various stages of the contest and prototype development. They were selected as one of 300 State Finalists in November, then one of 100 State Winners in January before advancing as one of 20 National Finalists in March, and ultimately, a 2020 National Grand Prize Winner. The final Pitch Event was initially scheduled to take place in New York City in April but was replaced with a virtual format due to COVID-19.
Anchored in Samsung’s guiding vision of ‘Together for Tomorrow! Enabling People’, Solve for Tomorrow launched in 2010 to encourage innovative thinking, creative problem-solving and teamwork to discover and nurture social innovation ideas aimed at resolving society’s most pressing problems. What began as an environment-focused essay contest has transformed into a problem-based learning initiative that fosters critical thinking and creative problem solving. Since its inception, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest has awarded $18 million in Samsung technology and classroom materials to more than 2,500 public schools in the United States.