Tech School Named Md. Winner In Samsung Contest

NEWARK – For the third year in a row, students led by Worcester Technical High School teacher Valerie Zienty are in the running for new technology through the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

Worcester Technical High School was named the Maryland winner in this year’s $2 million Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. As the state winner, the school will receive $20,000 of Samsung technology products and advance in the nationwide competition.

“I am honored to be recognized by Samsung for this year’s project,” Zienty said. “Participating in Samsung’s contest makes my students feel important and empowered to make a difference not only in our community, but also the entire nation.”

The Samsung contest, which is meant to increase interest in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), challenges teachers and students to take lessons out of the classroom and into the community.

“When you give students a problem to solve and let them work collaboratively to apply the design process, it is amazing what they can come up with as possible solutions,” said Caroline Bloxom, principal of Worcester Tech.

The project that earned the Newark school top honors in the state in this year’s contest focuses on using STEM to address the issue of roadside litter in the community. Students described litter along Route 113 as one of the primary problems near their school as it destroyed natural beauty, harmed local wildlife and could even be a hazard to motorists.

Zienty’s students have proposed building a robot to collect litter. The project, Zienty said, would expose them to energy transfer and mechanical systems and would also teach them to use relevant software programs. She says she’s excited to see her students take on the challenge, which she believes will better prepare them for the future.

“In order to thrive in fast paced college and career environment, every high school graduate will need to be a creative problem-solver, a lifelong learner, and an effective communicator,” Zienty said. “I’m excited to find out how my students will solve the litter problem.”

This is the third year Zienty and her students have entered the Samsung contest. The first year, when they worked with Atlantic General Hospital to redesign a waiting room, they were named one of 15 national finalists and received $32,000 worth of technology. Last year, she and her students were among five state finalists for an Ebola telemedicine project in which they designed protective gear for physicians.

With this year’s state level win, they’re hoping to again impress national judges. For the next phase of the competition, they’re tasked with creating a two-to-three-minute video showcasing their idea for helping the community. Five national winners will be selected in April.