The current generation of middle and high school students will need to be much more math and science-savvy than past classes—in the next decade, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs will grow by 17%, compared to 9.8% in other fields. It’s important, then, for schools to teach these subjects well. Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow initiative recently awarded five U.S. schools over $100,000 in various technology products (laptops, LED TVs, etc.) for raising enthusiasm about STEM in their communities.
The five schools seen here answered the question: "How can STEM help improve the environment in your community?" in video form.
Franklin High School in Los Angeles took the community choice award for a project measuring contaminated runoff in the LA river. After setting up basin catch screens in the river, the students found—surprise!—that it contained high levels of nitrate, bacteria, and phosphate. Their solution: maintaining catch basin screens to cut down on pollution, filtering stormwater, and educating the public on sustainability.
Arrowhead Park Early College in Las Cruces, New Mexico, won in the "urban" category. The school’s project examines local drought issues and proposes a solution: a rainwater collection system to cut down on the use of water provided by the city. If all 42,000 homes in Las Cruces installed rainwater collection systems, the city could net an extra 160,034,400 gallons of water.
Leewood K-8 Center in Miami took the top prize in the "suburban" category for its produce garden, which eschews synthetic fertilizers (student research found that local water was heavily polluted by synthetic fertilizer byproducts) for less harmful production methods. All the fruits and vegetables grown, including tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries, are cooked in the school.
The HAB Balloon Club at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, Minnesota, won in the "rural category." The club recruited seventh and eight graders to create a balloon that traveled to the stratosphere, recording video, photos, and data (i.e. atmospheric layer measurements). A.W. Research Laboratories, a local firm, is using data from the project to learn more about how humans affect the climate.
The final winner, MS 88/Peter Rouget Middle School in Brooklyn won for its work investigating water quality in the contaminated Gowanus Canal. The students figured out that installing a green roof on top of the school would absorb stormwater runoff, cutting down on pollution. The school plans to continue collecting and analyzing data from the canal.