Teachers: Deadline looms for solve-it program

Applications for a contest to design innovative solutions to community problems are due by October 31

solve for tomorrow

The 2013 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow finalists pose for a selfie with Bill Rancic, the first winner of “The Apprentice” at SXSWedu.


Sometimes the best way to inspire students in science, technology, engineering and math is to let them solve a problem in their own community. Maybe they can think of a better way to get to school in the morning or to build a more efficient air conditioner. Middle and high school teachers can apply on behalf of their classrooms to tackle such community issues. Each national winner will receive up to $120,000 in technology equipment for their school.

It’s called the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Teachers from any public school in the United States are welcome to apply by completing an online form. Next month, five teachers from each state and the District of Columbia will be selected to submit a lesson plan describing how their classroom would tap science, technology, engineering or math to solve a local problem. Based on those lesson plans, one teacher per state will be chosen to create a video showcasing their classrooms’ solution. Each state winner will also receive $20,000 in technology equipment for their school.

After reviewing all 50 videos, the organizers will select 15 for posting online. Then the public gets a chance to vote. The 15 finalists will then be narrowed down to five winning schools, which will each receive additional technology for their school worth $120,000. Winners also will attend an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to pick up their awards.

It’s probably should be rewarding enough to come up with a class project to help the local community. But what public school couldn’t use a little extra equipment? Previous winners have designed improvements to their local sewer systems and new methods to cool buildings using water.

The contest is open to sixth- through twelfth-grade classrooms. This year’s application deadline: October 31.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.