03.26.18 / Solve for Tomorrow

Kentucky Student Inventors Tackle Opioid Epidemic, Showcase Project to Legislators at State Capitol


Twelve students of Ashland Middle School took over the Kentucky state capitol earlier this month as invite-only participants in the Appalachia Rising Recognition Ceremony, a STEAM fair celebration that gathered over 250 students, educators and state legislators to showcase trailblazing leaders and learners that are setting the standard for excellence in education.

The group of 12 and 14-year-old students from Ashland Middle School made headlines earlier this year when they became one of 10 national finalist teams in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest as a result of their efforts to address an issue in their community arising from the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

As part of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, the students used STEAM skills and worked with local first responders, police officers and addiction centers to develop a proprietary device that allows first responders to safely collect hazardous needles left behind by opioid and other drug users. They also used coding skills to develop an online database that local community members can access to learn more about the opioid epidemic and report hazardous needles found in public areas.


The students and teachers of Ashland Middle School gather outside the capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky on March 6.
The students and teachers of Ashland Middle School gather outside the capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky on March 6.

The inspiring changemakers presented their STEAM-driven project to 17 local legislators, including state Senator Robin Webb in Frankfort, Kentucky on March 6.

“Touring the state capitol and meeting other students who are committed to improving our community was an awesome experience,” explained Aubrey H., a student of Ashland Middle School. “The highlight was probably meeting Robin Webb and getting to explain our project to her. She was really nice and proud of the work we’re doing.”

The students were also honored in a Capitol Rotunda ceremony, where former governor Paul Patton gave remarks and presented awards to local educators. Michele Mosa, Senior Manager of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America, formally congratulated the students and teachers of Ashland Middle School for being named a top ten national finalist team and winning $50,000 in technology for their school. In April, the students will travel to New York City where they will present their project to a panel of judges in hopes of clinching one of 3 grand prizes — $150,000 in Samsung technology for their school.


Michele Mosa, Senior Manager of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung congratulates Ashland Middle School for being named a national finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.
Michele Mosa, Senior Manager of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung congratulates Ashland Middle School for being named a national finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

“Before this experience, I used to get really nervous presenting in front of people. But talking about opioid addiction is something that comes naturally, because it’s a prominent issue not only in our community but in communities nationwide,” explained Shayla T., a student who worked on the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow project. “It’s something we’re all very passionate about, so we’re speaking from the heart and genuinely trying to make a difference and improve our world.”

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


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