The science program in Sunburst has been outstanding for many years and the tradition continues this year. Sunburst eighth graders, Chelsea Allen, Christian Bloch, Jeff Owens, Treyton Pickering, and Aelie Rowell, with the help and support of teachers, Kim Bloch, Brian Hansen (eighth grade teacher) and Diane Fauque (seventh grade teacher), have advanced further in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM Challenge.
The students recently won a $20,000 Samsung technology package and are now hoping to be selected as one of the top five entries in the nation.
“We are hoping to be named one of five top finalists,” said Bloch. “If that happens we will attend an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. and garner up to $135,000 worth of Samsung technology for the school district.”
The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM Challenge requires students to work to solve a community issue, using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Bloch’s students chose to try to find a solution to the alkali that blows across Interstate 15. Creating a two-minute video depicting the class working through this process and the lesson plan the teacher submitted was the next level of the challenge and Bloch’s students passed with flying colors.
On Feb. 18 they found out they were in the top 15 in the nation out of 2,300 original entrants. Overall, the students have won the school district a total of $35,000 in Samsung technology.
Now the students are preparing for a trip to Austin, Texas, where they will be presenting their video to a panel of judges and answering any questions the judges may have in hopes of being named to the top five in the nation. This is the final judging stage and it is here the judges will pick the top three. There will also be one people’s choice and one ambassador award. The top five schools will send representation to Washington, D.C. for the awards.
The People’s Choice award is decided by online voting. You can vote by going to the website, www.samsung.com/solve.
“Online voting started on Feb. 25 and concludes on March 14,” shared Bloch. “Anyone over 13 with an e-mail can vote once a day, every day. We need all your votes, your family’s votes, friends, neighbors, and everyone you know in different states.”
While students are working hard at not only winning, but solving an ongoing problem in the area, there has been a lot of fun involved. Bloch explained that the students have enjoyed being able to “put away the textbooks” and going out and working on the project and talking to all the different experts who have shared their knowledge. It’s been fun for the teachers participating as well.
“Watching the students get more confident as they work with the different experts and learning the material and seeing them ‘get it,’ has been fun,” shared Bloch. “When they get hands on; watching them develop the scale to build the model, watching them building the model and seeing their excitement when they learned they were selected in the top 15 in the nation, that has all been fun for us.”
While most may think putting the project together and coordinating everything might be the biggest challenge in this adventure that would be wrong.
“The weather!,” was the unanimous answer when asked what the greatest challenge to date has been.
With still plenty of days left to vote, Bloch encourages everyone to go online to the webpage and look for Sunburst Junior High and vote, daily. The voting process is a two-step deal, and Bloch wants people to be aware that they do need to “confirm” their vote via email.
“When you vote you have to go to your email and confirm your e-mail and confirm your vote,” concluded Bloch. “If you don’t confirm your e-mail the first time and then confirm your vote every time, the vote won’t count.”
As of press time, a Florida team was about 1,300 votes ahead of the Sunburst team.
An once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has presented itself to Sunburst Junior High students and they are running with it, with the finish line in sight.