DHS wins state engineering challenge

By Pat Sunderland


Delta High School has been named the Colorado state winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a program that encourages teachers and students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

"I'm really proud of all these guys," said physics instructor Ben Magtutu. "This is excellent stuff."

Delta High School is among the nation's 51 state winners (representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C.) and will receive $25,000 in technology with a chance to become one of the 10 national finalists.

The DHS students gained nationwide attention for their proposal to use STEAM skills to design soundproof walls to absorb excess noise in the cafeteria.

Now they're scrambling to get an Indiegogo fundraising campaign up and running this week. Samsung provided seed money of $250 that's intended to bring all the winning projects to life. While some of winners need the funds to complete their projects, the DHS concept was awarded $900 last fall after students pitched their idea to DHS administrators and school board members. If they're successful in raising additional funds through the crowdsourcing website, the students said they will likely expand the project and begin to set aside money in the hope they're among the 10 finalists invited to New York City.

The concept was originally pitched by Lizzy Ward, Hannah Owens, Jaspar Carmichael and Logan Freed, but the entire class is taking part in the production of a video that's the next step of the selection process.

Using an ATIV Book 9 Pro provided by Samsung, state winners must submit a three-minute video that demonstrates their project -- from planning to execution.

DHS has until mid-February to submit its video for review by a panel of judges, which will rank each project on its originality, sustanability, community involvement, technology need and application of STEAM principles.

Next, from the pool of 51 state finalists, 10 schools will be selected as national finalists to present their projects live to a panel of judges in New York City in early 2017.

And finally, three national grand prize winners and one community choice winner will be selected in the spring of 2017.

In addition, students will be able to effect even greater change in their local communities by selecting and advocating for a local charity of choice, in an effort to win a donation on its behalf. The Kiwanas Club of Delta was the organization selected to receive a donation from Samsung if the school is named a national winner later this spring.

The DHS project focuses on reducing the decibel level in school facilities, beginning with the cafeteria at Lincoln Elementary School, where the excited voices of dozens of kids bounce and multiply off the walls, ceilings and floor. If children are exposed to high sound levels for an extended period of time, their psychological and physiological health can be affected.

The students proposed a two-prong approach of reduction and absorption. They have designed sound panels to be installed on the cafeteria ceiling to absorb the sound in the room. The panels will also reinforce the school's ideals with words such as "pride" and "respect" printed on the surface.

To get the kids to "turn down the volume" they've also designed a monitor that will measure the decibel level in the room and indicate by light when the noise level is reaching an unacceptable range.

"Each Solve for Tomorrow state winner school has presented a challenge unique to their hometowns, but most of those challenges have implications across the globe." said Ann Woo, director of corporate citizenship, Samsung Electronics America. "While others might see the threats posed to environmental conservation, health and wellness, and sustainable living as insurmountable problems, these students and teachers see an opportunity for change. We're delighted to support each school as they take these complex challenges head-on with STEAM learning."