UHS, MHS national finalists in Samsung tech contest

Morgantown High and University High schools are both state finalists in a national contest designed to get students thinking about how technology can ease societal woes.

The two local schools are among the 300 middle schools and high schools across the nation to make the cut in “Solve for Tomorrow,” which is annually hosted by Samsung Electronics America.

Samsung launched the competition in 2010 as a way to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving in society, using the components of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

MHS was also a national finalist during last year’s competition.

It isn’t a science fiction or cyberpunk exercise, said Ann Woo, who heads the conglomerate’s corporate citizenship division in the U.S., which oversees “Solve for Tomorrow.”

Over the years, Woo said, budding-futurists in the competition have taken everything from school safety to emotional wellness — with entries geared either to their specific communities or the world-at-large.

A high school in Florida formulated an app geared to detect the onset of sport-related heat stroke on the playing field, which is critical in the Sunshine State during two-a-day football practices in August.

Another high school in Texas devised a monitoring system to help prevent the scourge of colony collapse in the bee population.

And another in Georgia created a monitoring system and accompanying app geared to reduce the prevalence of “night terrors” among veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Other schools have addressed climate change, cybersecurity, student emotional health and food insecurity in their projects.  

“Their commitment to making a tangible impact speaks volumes about the transformative power of education and technology,” Woo said.

Here at home, Monongalia County’s school district is setting out to do just that.

The district is embarking on a new venture in tech with its Renaissance Academy, a proposed $72 million stand-alone STEM school it wants to have constructed and open to students by 2027.

John Chadwick is an architect and former school administrator who is overseeing the project through the DLR Group, the architectural firm that is designing the school.

“This is not ‘your grandfather’s vo-tech,’” Chadwick told Mon’s Board of Education members during a recent informational session.

Meanwhile, national winners each earn a prize package worth $100,000 — with winners announced in late January, Samsung said.

Visit www.Samsung.com/solve to learn more about the contest and last year’s top entries.

The other West Virginia finalists: Greenbrier East High School, in Lewisburg; Oceana Middle School, in Oceana; Pineville Middle School, in Pineville; and Wyoming County East High School, in New Richmond.

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