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Class project earns sixth graders national recognition

Class project earns sixth graders national recognition
Class project earns sixth graders national recognition

STILLWATER MIDDLE SCHOOL -- Jan. 5, 2023 -- Sixth-graders at Stillwater Middle School have advanced in the national "Solve for Tomorrow" competition sponsored by Samsung. They are one of just 40 teams (grades 6-12) in the country and the only team from Minnesota to move forward to the next round. The 11 and 12 year olds will compete against other students - including high school kids.

While learning about light pollution as part of a unit in Corrie Christensen’s Grade 6 science class, the students began to research the impact lights have on migratory birds. Christensen heard of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition and thought it would be the perfect fit for her students.

Samsung’s nationwide competition is designed to empower students in grades 6–12 to leverage the power of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create innovative solutions addressing critical issues in their local communities.

As part of the competition, the students thought of ways they could help reduce light impact on bird migration patterns in the St. Croix Valley. They developed a plan with three priorities: (1) Finding an alternative light source using bioluminescence; (2) Using sensors to reduce unnecessary light and (3) Design a cover for streetlights to prevent upward lighting.

Their plan earned them a state championship and $12,000! Phase 3 focuses on building the rest of our prototype and creating a 3 minute video showing our journey from problem to solution and why. 

In March, 10 schools will be named National Finalists in and receive $50,000 in prizes and a trip to the national conference for Christensen and 3 of the students to present their project idea. 

Last month, the kids met with Stillwater’s mayor, Ted Kozlowski, to talk about the issues and better understand the city’s lighting policies and ordinances. They’re also planning to meet with the city engineer to share their ideas and learn more about how city lights are designed.

For more information on Stillwater Area Public Schools, follow the district on Facebook and on Instagram @stillwater834.

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