Kent State researchers help local high school compete in STEM contest

Alexandra Seibt

Richard Dudley, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher at Coventry High School in Akron, Ohio and his STEM students are state winners of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and received $20,000 in technology.

STEM classes are offered in the Wetlands & Aquatic Research Facility at the high school, and according to a press release, Dudley and students studied human impact on a water source on school property and nearby Portage Lakes to design and implement best water management practices.

“The goal is to give them (the students) a way to impact their community,” Dudley said. “A great place to start a project is making it relevant to them and their community.”

Dudley participated in Earth Systems Science, a Kent State University program developed by assistant professors Bridget Mulvey and Jacqueline Curtis, according to the press release.  The program was funded by the Ohio Department of Regents, which introduced him to the geospatial tools and techniques — such as global positioning system (GPS) units and a GPS-enabled video camera — that helped him to develop the project.

“It seemed like we offered some thinking outside of the box,” Mulvey said. “So, to see that come to another level, like the stuff we did (in the Earth Systems Science class) didn’t die out, it didn’t end when that class was over, it kept going and he took it in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

Mulvey and Curtis were also able to visit Coventry High School to provide STEM students with their knowledge and introduce them to some of the same techniques used in Earth Systems Science.

“My role in the project is bringing geospatial technologies into the classroom, so what I try to do is translate for them how scientists use it in the real world, and how does that then fit into your lessons and into your classroom,” Curtis said.

According to the official rules and judging criteria, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest is made up of four phases. The contest began Sept. 1, 2015, and the last phase ends Friday, April 1.

“It was really fun, and I think I learned a lot from it,” said Summer Bassett, a junior at Coventry High School participating in the STEM project. “I learned how to interact with people better because I’m kind of a shy person.”

Dudley and his students have made it to phase three of the contest, and recently submitted their three-minute video showing how STEM research can improve the community in order to move on to phase four and compete as national finalists.

Alexandra Seibt is the EHHS reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]