A group of middle school students are making quite the name for themselves thanks to their idea to help solve a simple, yet dangerous, problem in their community.
At the Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC) Showcase on March 6, students from Ashland Middle School (Ashland Independent) played the stars as they showed off their Samsung Solve for Tomorrow project.
The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow project is a contest that challenges students from 6th-12th grade to “show how STEM can be applied to help improve their local communities.”
Ashland’s answer? Use 3-D printers to make plastic molds that could be used to help pick up used needles in a safe manner.
“Our school resource officer was the one who pointed out that this would be a good idea,” said Isaac Campbell, an 8th-grader at Ashland Middle School. “He told us that police officers have to pick up these dirty needles with nothing more than thin rubber gloves and it was really easy for them to get stuck with the needles.”
From their basic prototype, the students have further refined their design so that it can be used to help police officers collect used needles as evidence.
“The police department came to us and told us that they collected a lot of needles as evidence and so we had to go back and make a smaller design that could be put into a little tube that the police turn in,” said Campbell.
The Ashland students already have won $50,000 after being named as the state finalist from Kentucky, and now they have a chance to travel to New York where they will compete to be a national finalist.
“It’s a really special opportunity for the kids,” said Michelle Mosa, a senior manager at Samsung, who visited with the students while they were at KVEC.
Mosa also gave the students tips on where to find the best pizza during their trip to New York. Some of the students were looking even further ahead, telling Mosa that they wanted to have a meeting with President Donald Trump when they became national finalists and traveled to Washington, D.C.
The students also will have a chance to win $20,000 more based on an online vote that is open until April 2. You can go vote for them at the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow home page.
Ashland Middle School wasn’t the only school at the showcase however.
Schools from all of the 22 counties covered by KVEC came to show off how they were using KVEC grant money to help create new economic landscapes in Eastern Kentucky.
From robotics, to programming and architecture, students showed off their ideas in the Capitol rotunda and toured the building during their breaks.