OHS school safety project named Missouri winner in Samsung’s 2019 national Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

Owensville High School students Paige Tayloe, Jonah Hoffman and Trey Fisher have won $20,000 worth of Samsung technology for their school as Missouri’s winner of the tech firm’s national Solve For Tomorrow Contest.

Tayloe, Hoffman and Fisher were court-side Thursday evening during the 30th OHS basketball tournament along with their teacher, Kevin Lay, when the surprise announcement was made. Cindy Hawkins, principal at OHS, handed Lay a card as he was introducing his students for their accomplishment — previously announced — that their project was one of five Missouri finalists selected in the competition.

The card included the new announcement that the OHS project was the winner among Missouri schools.

“Because of their unique solution to inspire change, Owensville High School has been named the Missouri state winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest,” Samsung officials announced Jan. 3.

The nationwide contest aims to raise enthusiasm in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects by encouraging teachers and students to solve issues in their community using STEM skills.

Selected from thousands of entries nationwide, Owensville High School has been named the Missouri state winner for its proposed plan to address student and school safety.

The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest encourages teachers and students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Owensville is among the nation’s 50 state winners and will receive $20,000 in technology for its achievement. The school will also receive a Samsung video kit to create and submit a three-minute video that showcases their project development and how it addresses the issue. 

“The scale and importance of the issues addressed in this year’s contest reflect how students are taking responsibility for their role as change agents for the future,” said Ann Woo, senior director of corporate citizenship, Samsung Electronics America. “These state winners and trailblazing teachers and students are taking action to create tangible solutions and promote positive change. Samsung is proud to support their vision for a brighter future and looks forward to seeing how they will use imagination and creativity with complex technologies such as VR and 3D printing to bring these projects to life.”

Woo, citing information provided in the OHS project overview, summarized their entry.

There were at least 21 school shootings where students were either hurt or killed during the first five months of 2018, according to Woo. The small-town school of Owensville High has experienced its own scares, and decided to create a device that can provide an extra measure of security to doors in the event of attack or intruder at school. 

The first round was narrowed down to five state finalists.

“We were named one of the five,” said Lay. “Then, the state champion winner was announced officially on Thursday. And we were awarded the honor.”

The next step

All 50 state winners will work on their projects and submit their three-minute video in hopes of advancing in the contest’s remaining phases.

Out of the 50 state qualifiers, 10 national finalists will be selected to attend a pitch event in the spring where they will present their project to a panel of judges. For achieving national finalist status, seven schools will receive a $50,000 Samsung technology package. The other three schools will advance as the national winners and each will receive a $100,000 Samsung technology package

Out of the 10 finalists, the general public will elect the recipient for the People’s Choice Award and win an additional $10,000 Samsung technology package. Prizes are based on an estimated retail value.

“I am beyond excited for these students and the school district!” said Lay. “These students have worked hard at developing a concept that was feasible, practical and original. The began with an idea, and that idea slowly developed into concept drawings and creating models. Those models went from using lab materials to designing our own concept on our 3D printers. Once that became a reality, we called on professionals to really see about making this 3D printed model, into a working model using steel/aluminum and other materials besides plastics.”

Throughout the development of the school’s STEM program, area professionals have assisted with developing curriculum and assisting students with projects. For the Samsung contest, they received additional mentoring. 

“Eric Malone from LMI Aerospace sacrificed his time to help our students understand what goes into developing a model into a CAD/CAM design software, and taught them about strength measurements, tolerances and integrity of the design and materials,” said Lay.

Students also answered a series of questions about their project as part of the entry process at the state level.

“These students have been doing some amazing work in the STEM lab that our community has supported,” said Lay. “And we are ready for more challenges and more success that our students will share with not only our school and district, but to our community, and nation. So many people are making this possible, and we are forever grateful for the support and encouragement from them.”

Lay noted the support from their principals, Cindy Hawkins and her assistant, Kris Altemeyer, for “their sacrifice of time and motivation to help us advance,” and “to our administration for their input and support in all of our projects, and the Board of Education for the encouragement and opportunity; not only now, but in the future of helping our STEM programs grow, expand and thrive. We are aiming to be one of the top 10 finalists. We’re proud to represent the state of Missouri for this incredible honor!"