North Carolina Students Win Much-Needed Technology for their School


As a top 10 national finalist team in Samsung’s 2018 Solve for Tomorrow contest, a group of students and their teacher from Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Winston-Salem, NC invented a device for saving lives and, in the process, won $50,000 in much-needed Samsung technology for their school.

“It’s very hard for us to learn” said Kira L., a member of the winning team, when asked what the technology prize will mean to her school. “…when we have to trade [computers] with each teacher and then that teacher needs it, it’s very hard for us to learn and sometimes our Wi-Fi doesn’t work.”

Mark Schnably, the teacher who entered the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest on behalf of the kids, concurred that the lack of technology in the school is disruptive to the students’ education.

“Our school has moved to using textbooks online and as a result we don’t have textbooks to give to the students and so we’re very dependent on having access to the internet in our classrooms.”

That was reason enough for Schnably, who runs the school’s STEAM program, to enter the students into the Samsung contest with a proposal for developing a solution to the community’s hazardous roads when flash floods occur.


Teacher and students from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Winston-Salem, NC Built a water sensor and barrier system that deploys when flash floods make roads unsafe.

Teacher and students from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Winston-Salem, NC built a water sensor and barrier system that deploys when flash floods make roads unsafe.


The Solve for Tomorrow project the students of Thomas Jefferson Middle School built is a water sensor that deploys smart flood gates and alerts the local authorities when water levels reach above 6 inches. They are also working on a system that will interface with popular traffic apps and notify first responders such as the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Through their research, the students discovered that on average, 85 people a year are killed due to weather events that cause flooding.

“For the team, their goal was to save both citizens’ and first responders’ lives,” explained Schnably. “This device [if put into use] would help first responders focus their attention to areas of need during a flooding event and minimize water rescue operations.”

So not only are the students potentially saving lives, but with the $50,000 in Samsung technology for their school they’ve paved a path for more impactful STEAM projects to come out of Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

“Becoming a national finalist is really awesome,” said Richard Rylan L., another student-member of the winning team. “Definitely getting more technology for the school, which has really been a problem for us… but having $50,000 makes things a lot easier.”

To find out more about 2018 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow national finalist teams, please visit smsng.news/SFT2018Top10.


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