Nicholson Elementary takes home top prize in tech competition
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Students, teachers and staff from Nicholson Elementary have a reason to celebrate now that the school was named one of the five grand prize winners in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, winning an estimated $138,000 in technology and cash for the school.
Tuesday, Nicholson Elementary teacher Maureen Pollitz called all students and teachers to the school’s multi-purpose building for the surprise announcement.
For the past couple of months, Pollitz, along with her gifted sixth-grade students and high school students from the Pearl River County robotics team utilized their engineering design process to create a robot designed to survey the city of Picayune’s storm drain pipes to prevent flooding.
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 solution to fix the city’s storm drains.
Pollitz said she kept most everyone at the school in the dark about the win, including her students, because she wanted to surprise everyone at the same time.
“I’m just relieved to finally put Mississippi on top. We have great teachers here and we’re working on great things with STEM so I’m glad to have something to show for it,” Pollitz said.
She announced the news by playing a video sent by a Samsung representative congratulating the school for their hard work. Upon receiving the news, students and teachers inside the building roared with cheers and applause.
“I kind of knew we might win but there was a lot of good competition,” sixth-grade student Kaydee Hensiek said.
The contest is a national competition designed to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and math, according to samsung.com.
The school competed against 3,100 schools nationwide.
“First and foremost, praise goes to the children who worked in the program, our sixth-graders and the high school students,” Nicholson Elementary Principal Patrick Rutherford said. “This money will be able to assist our students by providing them with computers and tablets and exposing them to more information so that they’re ready for testing.”
The Item previously reported that Nicholson Elementary was named Samsung’s Mississippi State winner back in December after Pollitz submitted her lesson plan, which utilized STEM to prevent flooding in the community.
In March, the school became one of the top 15 national finalists after Pollitz and her students created a short video documenting their work using the engineering design process to fix the city’s storm drains.
As finalists, Pollitz and several students, along with the other national finalists, gave a project presentation at the contest’s pitch event in New York. The top five national winners were selected based on the judge’s results and online voting.
Later this month, several representatives from Nicholson Elementary, including Pollitz, will attend an awards ceremony in Washington D.C., where they, along with the other grand prize winners, will get the opportunity to meet congressional representatives.