9 Mind-Blowing STEM Projects by Teen Environmentalists
AI-assisted sorting for recycling. 3D-printed and biodegradable mosquito traps. Here’s a sneak-peak at how the next generation is tackling environmental issues.
Samsung’s annual Solve for Tomorrow Contest empowers thousands of students across America to create innovative solutions that transform local communities. Since the beginning of the program, students have turned their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talents towards addressing environmental issues that they personally witness everyday.
Here’s a list of nine mind-blowing Solve for Tomorrow projects that focus on natural resources, climate change adaptation, circular economy, wildlife, and a whole lot more.
1. Detroit community app to report trash in abandoned home lots
Southwest Detroit faces excessive amounts of garbage. For instance, used tires are left in open spaces and in unsecured and abandoned home lots. These students created an app called the Green Warrior that tracks these sites and reports them to local community organizations that lead clean-up efforts.
Hope of Detroit Academy, 2020-2021
2. AI-assisted sorting for recycling in North Carolina
An estimated 25% of recycling is contaminated by waste, making cross-contamination a tremendous problem for recycling centers across the country. These students created an app that uses image processing and machine learning algorithms to help people separate recyclables and non-recyclables.
North Carolina School of Science and Math, 2019-2020
3. Sensors that help firefighters in California quickly assess wildfire risk
Last year in California alone, 6,200 fires ravaged the Pacific coast, 2,300 buildings were destroyed, and more than 100 people were killed. These students created a low-cost sensor that can detect wind speed, humidity, and temperature, indicating a possible risk of fire in a particular area, and relaying that information back to the local fire department early.
Dougherty Valley High School, 2019-2020
4. Water bowl monitoring for Arizona’s drought-stricken wildlife
The southwestern U.S. is experiencing a sustained and deepening drought, and water catchment tanks installed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department require time-consuming physical monitoring to ensure wildlife receive the water that they need. These students designed a low-cost sensor to monitor water levels within catchment tanks to decrease the time and cost associated with managing the wildlife water program.
Blue Ridge Junior High School, 2019-2020
5. Better insulation for Indiana’s mobile homes
During winter weather, many low-income individuals living in mobile homes often suffer due to inadequate insulation. These students developed a portable, low-cost, and easy insulation solution to be applied to mobile home walls to ensure better heat retention.
Center Grove High School, 2019-2020
6. Lead test for New Jersey’s drinking water
In Belleville, NJ and in communities across the U.S., high lead levels in water is a serious issue. These students designed an app to test lead ions in water and ensure that water is safe to consume.
Belleville High School, 2019-2020
7. 3D-printed, biodegradable mosquito traps in California
Southern California has seen an uptick in an invasive species of aggressive mosquito known to carry incurable diseases. These students designed an affordable and environmentally safe mosquito trap using a 3D printed design with biodegradable materials. They also created an app that encourages the community to maintain their traps and report on mosquito activity.
Los Altos High School, 2018-2019
8. Filtering out manganese from Maine’s water supply
A large amount of manganese appeared in local drinking water in North Berwick, Maine. These students created a water filtration system that uses a chemical reaction of sodium carbonate and sulfur sulfate to turn the manganese into solid particles that can then be easily filtered out.
Noble High School, 2017-2018
9. Washing machine microplastics filtration systems in Nebraska
An estimated 20,000 microplastics can run through a home washing machine at any given time, producing highly polluted greywater that flows into community water sources. These students developed a filtration system that can be attached and used with any washing machine, or other greywater sources exiting a home such as sinks, showers and dishwashers. Using 3-D printing, students constructed a three-stage filtration to “catch” all plastics of varying sizes while mitigating clogs, thereby helping to clean and purify the water before it exits to the local water supply.
Gering High School, 2017-2018