Nicholson Elementary earns a spot in national STEM competition
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Nicholson Elementary is one of the top 15 national finalists for the 2015 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.
The contest is a national competition designed to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and math, according to samsung.com.
Nicholson Elementary teacher Maureen Pollitz, along with her gifted sixth-grade students and high school students from the Pearl River County robotics team, earned a spot in the contest after creating a short video documenting how they used STEM in a real-life situation.
“The competition is designed to encourage students to look into STEM careers, which are the careers of the future,” Pollitz said.
The Item reported that Nicholson Elementary was named the Mississippi state winner for the contest in December after Pollitz submitted her lesson plan, which used science, technology, engineering and math to analyze the engineering design process and apply it to the real world.
As a result, the school won $20,000 worth of Samsung technology, including Adobe Elements software, a laptop and a camera, Pollitz said.
“To place in nationals, we created a video which documented the students’ work with the engineering design process, which made them ask, imagine, plan, create, experiment and improve on a real-life situation using STEM,” Pollitz said.
The students worked with NASA personnel to learn how to utilize the engineering design process and Picayune Public Works Director Eric Morris to come up with a real-life solution using STEM to fix the city’s storm drains, Pollitz said.
“The students created a robot that allows them to survey the city’s storm drains,” she said. “And currently they’re in the improve stage, where they’re making any necessary changes to make it work better.”
As one of the top 15 national finalists, Pollitz said they will present their robotic storm drain expedition STEM project to a panel of judges on March 18 at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.
“I will be taking one of my sixth-grade students and one of the high school students from the robotics team with me,” Pollitz said.
The top five national grand prize winners will be selected based on the judge’s results and public voting.
Currently, videos of the top 15 finalists, including Nicholson Elementary, are available to view and vote on at http://www.samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow/contest/. Voting ends on March 25.
“All you need is a valid e-mail address to vote,” Pollitz said. “All my students did a great job and the community did a great job in helping us get here. If we win, we receive $120,000 in technology for the school.”
Her sixth-grade students are confident in their chance of being named a national winner.
“We should be confident,” sixth-grade student Hope Dabrovolskis said. “But I don’t want to have too much high self-esteem, in case we don’t win.”
Aside from the competition, Pollitz said her sixth-grade students are sending letters to state and national government officials to share their accomplishments regarding STEM.
“I think we’re doing a great job with students here in Mississippi, and we’re going to a national level representing this state, so it’s something they should know about,” Pollitz said.