Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow contest challenges US students grades 6 to 12 to use STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to create innovative and sustainable solutions that transform local communities.
To apply, all teachers have to do is submit ideas on how their students can better their communities using problem-based learning.
"The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest has not only taught my students valuable lessons in the classroom through hands-on learning, but has helped change the trajectory of their lives," said Harry Preston, teacher at Green Street Academy and a 2022 National Finalist.
There's evidence that this kind of encouragement can help students embrace STEM. As the Council on Foreign Relations noted last year, the percentage of graduates holding bachelor's degrees in science and engineering fields peaked in the late 1960s, around the time of the moon landing, but then declined slowly for several decades before the federal government began to reemphasize the importance of STEM education.
All the teams in the Samsung contest that are selected to advance to finalist rounds, which may be as many as 300 schools, will receive some monetary prize. Through its Solve for Tomorrow initiative, Samsung will award a total of $2 million in technology and supplies to classrooms in every state.
Samsung is adding an extra $50,000 sustainability incentive through its Sustainability Innovation Award. This prize will be awarded to a team that works on positive short-term and long-term environmental impact.
After entries close in November, finalists will be chosen. As students move on in the competition, they will have different opportunities to participate and further their skills through video submissions and even in-person pitches to a panel of judges.
Speaking of his students' experience, Preston said: "This competition has inspired in them a sense of entrepreneurship as well as a desire to change what the STEM field looks like from a representation standpoint. It has been incredible to guide them through as they witness firsthand their power to make change in the world."
Finalists have the opportunity to win money from the first to last round. In the first round 300 selected applicants will each receive $2,500. Prizes continue to increase as the schools make it further through the rounds, culminating in the $100,000 that the three national grand prize winner schools will each receive in classroom technology and supplies.
"The issues that students care about continue to evolve, and Samsung is committed to adapting to meet these change-makers where they are through the Solve for Tomorrow Contest," said Michelle Crossan-Matos, SVP and chief marketing, citizenship and communications officer at Samsung Electronics America.