Students advance in Samsung STEM contest

Two Foster High School students are participating in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

Two close friends from Foster High School are attempting to change the world with an idea they came up with.

Abas Hersi and David Hoang are two students from Foster High School who have submitted an idea to the ninth annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

This contest is an opportunity for students in grades six to 12 to show how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) can be applied to help improve their social community, according to the Samsung website.

According to Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America, Samsung started this competition because it wanted to bring awareness to the gap between the jobs that are available in the marketplace that requires STEM skills, and to acknowledge the lack of interest American students have in studying math and science.

“So often students see STEM as difficult, as the harder subject in the classrooms, but when you see it applied in a passion area, you really understand that application and the usefulness and the power of having STEM skills,” Woo said. “We know students like is technology and we also wanted to show sort of the connection between the product they interact with everyday to the fact that there are engineers and scientists and technologists who are thinking and planning and creating the product that they use each day.”

The first round of the competition ended at the end of November, narrowing down contestants to five school entries per state.

Hersi said he and Hoang found out about this competition from in robotics club advisor, Matiah Shaman, back in September.

Hersi and David came up with idea to try and combat child hunger.

“We found that one of the reasons that there’s such a lack of food, why kids aren’t being provided the food they need, is because food being wasted on the resale level,” Hersi explained. “In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 31 percent of all food loss was due to the retail, meaning people would buy excess amounts of food and end up just completely just throwing it away. So our idea essentially is to siphon that food that would otherwise be wasted and to give it to students in need.”

He said their plan is to make an application where people can create a diet plan. With the diet plans, the app would use a “machine learning algorithm” to determine how many groceries someone would need to buy, that way, people would not over buy food that would be put to waste and thrown out.

With there being less food bought, Hersi said the next step of their plan would be to collaborate with nonprofits in order to donate that extra food not being bought and give it to the individuals who need it.

“We found out about the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition, and essentially, it wanted us to solve a world issue and so we had realized a lot of students at our school weren’t getting provided the necessities that were necessary to them and a fine example of this being that we know a lot of students go hungry. I don’t know, it’s just something we wanted to back,” Hersi said.

He also said it was a difficult to come up with an idea like this one because looking at the big picture, he said they are trying to address one of the world’s biggest problems.

“It’s a little daunting because if today’s politicians haven’t been able to do it, how can I?” Hersi said.

The next portion of the competition is the second round where 50 state winners are selected to submit project videos from Jan. 3 until Feb. 15.

Woo said the equipment to make that video will be provided.

“The 50 state winners will be asked to produce a video. Really talking about their project and to bring them to life. One of the really important things for us is to see these projects happen and not just be a concept. The video is a great demonstration of how they work through their project,” Woo explained. “We don’t want classrooms around the country to not be able to generate this video because they don’t have the tools to do that. So we actually provide technology so they can generate the video. We give them all the materials. We give them some support along the way in terms of how to make a great video and tapping into all the great resources we have at the company.”

If Hersi and Hoang go through to the round after that, they would be one of the 10 national finalists selected to participate in the video contest on social media in March, it said on the Samsung website.

The website also said the 10 finalists will attend the pitch event to demo their prototype to a live panel of judges in April. There will be three winners. Each national winner will receive a $100,000 prize package including Samsung technology and classroom resources.

According to Woo, there are there are judges given a specific rubric to base each student group’s entry on. If they meet the criteria, they could move on to the next round of the competition.

Woo said the group aspect of the contest is important.

“We know that our contest is not an individual student competition, but really a group of students with a teacher or mentor whose navigating and encouraging them throughout the process. What that brings is this idea of teamwork. We love that they’re participating in our competition as a team because teamwork is so important,” she said.

Hersi said he’s not sure that he and Hoang will make it to the next round, but he hopes the chances are good.


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