Jefferson Middle School students have received an additional $30,000 in grant money—on top of $70,000 granted earlier—for placing in the top five in Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow contest. With the money, the students plan to create an app for smartphones that would inform Lake Hopatcong residents and visitors about invasive species, such as the water chestnut.
“Our app development team is busy preparing a simple version of our Invase Erase App that will hopefully be used to prevent the invasion of invasive species into the lake and limit any of those that already exist,” said Dr. Nancy Harris, the teacher who worked with the students on the contest entry and will join them in Washington, D.C. next month, via email. She goes on:
“In terms of winning the grant, of course we are very excited to have any technology donated to the district. Technology provides our students with the tools necessary for 21st century learning. I am equally excited about the project of creating an App with my students for a number of reasons. It provides the students with experiential, real world problem solving that challenges them. It is a timely and important topic as invasive species in our water ways is a real environmental issue and any thing we can do to protect or prevent the spread of these species in our natural environment is crucial. With the largest lake in New Jersey in our back yard, it makes it all the more important that we are all stewards of this cause. To be able to combine Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into the process is how it comes full circle. Real world problem, real world solutions…the students are not only learning about the problem they are also learning research skills, blogging skills and how to create an App that can help change our little world.
“To be chosen by the judges is quite an honor. It means that we covered all of the components that were required including the use of STEM and creativity in dealing with a problem that they obviously felt is an important one. Although we didn’t win through on-line voting we would like to acknowledge everyone for their support and thank them for advertising to vote for us as well as actually voting. Many organizations such as, the Knee Deep Club, Lake Hopatcong commission, local marinas, as well as our district administration, parents, teachers and friends who were spreading the word and we are very thankful for that.”
A group of Harris’s 8th grade students in her GATEways class have signed up to join the team that will develop the app, and they will be meeting after school over the coming weeks to do so.
The Samsung letter itself, which informed Harris and her students about the grant, said this: “Congratulations on being a grand prize winner of our Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest! In addition to winning a package worth $100,000 of technology courtesy of Samsung, Microsoft, Adobe and DIRECTV, you have earned a trip to Washington D.C. where you will be honored at our awards celebration on April 18th. The submissions this year truly embraced the challenge put forth and our judges were faced with an extremely difficult decision. The innovation and creativity toward enhancing STEM education were outstanding and have been instrumental in making you one of only five grand prize winners in this year’s Solve for Tomorrow contest. Everyone at Samsung looks forward to seeing you in the Capitol City for this very important and prestigious event where your school will be recognized for its contribution to the program and video submission.”