Three Hawaii schools advance in national STEM challenge

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Three schools in Hawaii are being recognized nationally for their ideas to impact change in their local communities through STEM education, including Waipahu Intermediate School in Waipahu and Leilehua High School and Kalani High School in Honolulu.

The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

Selected from a pool of over 1,000 applicants, these three schools have just been named Hawaii state winners in a nationwide competition that challenges students in grades 6th-12th to creatively use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address real-world issues in their communities.

Prizes in the 12th annual “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest” have an approximate retail value of $2 million.

As state winners, each school will receive $6,500 to be redeemed on Donorschoose.org, a nonprofit organization that facilitates direct donations to public school classroom projects, as well as a video kit to help them with the next phase of the contest.

The state winner classrooms were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues by using STEM learning and supporting sustainability. In addition to the $6,500, they received a video kit to help them with the next phase of the contest.

Teachers and their students from the 100 state winner schools will now record a video to showcase their project in hopes of advancing through future phases of the contest to win additional prizes and educational opportunities.

:Empowered and inspired to elicit change, Gen Z students are catalysts for making the world a better place,” said Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “As change agents for the future, this year’s State Winners are taking action to create tangible solutions that address a wide-range of important issues impacting their generation.”

Hawaii State Winner Profiles:

Teacher Bryan Silver and his high school students at Kalani High School

Local Issue: The Global Gig Economy is expected to grow 17.4% annually and is expected to double from 2018 to 2023. As the opportunity for freelance jobs increases, it can prove to be beneficial for teens looking for experience with more flexibility.

Proposed Project: Design a mobile app that connects teens with local neighborhood jobs to build self-esteem, financial awareness, and community connectedness.

Teacher Ken Kozuma and his middle school students at Waipahu Intermediate School


Local Issue: On the island of Oahu, residents generate more than 2.2 million tons of waste annually. However, there is currently only one landfill which is set to close in 2028; another is set to open and will take away prime agriculture land.

Proposed Project: Create an effective composting system and set up waste reduction protocols on school grounds.

Teacher Patrick Yim and his high school students at Leilehua High School

Local Issue: With the depletion of wild fish stock around the globe, the world has turned towards aquaculture as a method of food production. In Hawaii, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the value of farm-raised marine animals was $78.5 million in 2019.

Proposed Project: Develop a low-cost, solar-powered system for individuals or community groups to be able to participate and profit from aquaculture.

Future Competition Phases:

Ten National Finalist schools will be selected to participate in the pitch event where they will present their project to a panel of judges. For achieving National Finalist status, seven of these schools will be awarded $50,000 in technology and supplies while the remaining three will be named National Winners.

The National Winner schools will receive $100,000 in classroom technology and supplies.

Of the top ten schools, one Community Choice Winner will also be determined through online public voting and will be eligible to win an additional $10,000 in Samsung technology, as well as one Employee Choice Winner determined by Samsung employee votes to win an additional $10,000.

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