02.15.19 / Solve for Tomorrow

When a STEM Challenge becomes ‘Life-changing’

 Student members of the Solve for Tomorrow 2016-17 National Finalist teams get ready to present their STEM project prototypes to a judging panel at the pitch event in Washington D.C.
Student members of the Solve for Tomorrow 2016-17 National Finalist teams get ready to present their STEM project prototypes to a judging panel at the pitch event in Washington D.C.

Middle school math teacher Robert Garcia knows the right kind of opportunity can spark a struggling student’s imagination, skills and confidence, to lead to a lifetime love of learning and problem-solving.

Seizing on the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which challenges public school teachers and students in grades 6-12 to show how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be used to help improve their community, Garcia guided his math students at Crownover Middle School, in Corinth, Texas to become one of 10 national finalist teams during the 2016-2017 contest year– and, he says, confident citizens of the world ever since.

 Garcia’s Samsung Solve for Tomorrow team designed “Casa de Samsung,” a scale model of the natural-disaster temporary housing idea that earned the team a National Finalist title and $50,000 in Samsung technology.
Garcia’s Samsung Solve for Tomorrow team designed “Casa de Samsung,” a scale model of the natural-disaster temporary housing idea that earned the team a National Finalist title and $50,000 in Samsung technology.

“Samsung’s contest ignited my students’ passion for math and changed their perspective on learning, and two years later, their desire for learning is still there,” Garcia said. “They’d felt defeated in previous years. They’d been struggling with the state assessments. Now they’re no longer afraid to make mistakes, fix them and just keep trying.”

Responding to hurricanes and floods that had hit the Houston area, Garcia’s team of seventh-grade Accelerated Math students designed natural-disaster temporary housing that was less like a trailer and more like a small home, while also being adaptable to different extreme weather conditions and efficiently transportable and storable.


Artwork created by the Crownover Middle School Solve for Tomorrow Team depicting the name of their STEM project – a natural disaster housing concept – for the contest’s 2016-17 year.
Artwork created by the Crownover Middle School Solve for Tomorrow Team depicting the name of their STEM project – a natural disaster housing concept – for the contest’s 2016-17 year.

“ there were a lot of displaced people who needed alternatives to live in while they were getting their homes and lives rebuilt,” said Garcia, who had worked as an architect before pivoting into teaching.


Architect Plans.jpg Caption: Garcia’s students Brianna R. (left) and Arianna B. (right) learn about lighting plans from an architect during the ideation phase of their Solve for Tomorrow project for a natural-disaster housing concept.
Architect Plans.jpg Caption: Garcia’s students Brianna R. (left) and Arianna B. (right) learn about lighting plans from an architect during the ideation phase of their Solve for Tomorrow project for a natural-disaster housing concept.

As Garcia’s class designed the project they named Casa de Samsung (Spanish for “home of Samsung”), Garcia said, they consulted with local architects, engineers and meteorologists and worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to earn a spot in the contest’s final pitch event in Washington D.C.

Their journey didn’t stop there, where his students had the chance to practice their public-speaking skills. Garcia and two of his team members, Arianna B. and Brianna R., later presented the Casa project to Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX) and U.S. Representative  Michael Burgess(R-TX 26th District) in their offices at the U.S. Capitol.


Students Arianna B. and Brianna R. of Crownover Middle School in Corinth, Texas, present their STEM project – temporary natural disaster relief housing for those in need – during the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2017 National Finalist Pitch Event in Washington, D.C.
Students Arianna B. and Brianna R. of Crownover Middle School in Corinth, Texas, present their STEM project – temporary natural disaster relief housing for those in need – during the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow 2017 National Finalist Pitch Event in Washington, D.C.

Garcia and his students also addressed a regional conference on collaboration among higher education faculty and students, researchers and emergency management professionals, at the University of North Texas, in 2018. At the conference, Garcia and students Arianna B. and Brianna R. spoke on the importance of STEM education and building community relationships. “It was pretty incredible to see them get up and speak about what they got done with Casa de Samsung, and what it meant to them,” said Garcia.

For Garcia, the biggest takeaway for him from the 2017 contest was becoming even more convinced that “it’s important to step outside the box, find alternatives and tailor the curriculum to the kids.” He has since applied for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship to pursue his newfound passion for education policy reform.

“Samsung Solve for Tomorrow was life-changing for my students and for me,” Garcia said. “It was the key inspiration that started me reaching for more, trying to influence change. And it opened their eyes to a lot of career possibilities, like architecture, engineering and even politics and lobbying.”


 

Up Next
1.18.2019 / Solve for Tomorrow
Solve for Tomorrow Students Rely on Samsung Tech to Complete STEM Projects
Back to menu
* Required Fields

Get Press Releases & Latest News as it Develops!

Please enter a valid email

Thank You for Signing Up!

Thank you! An email with a confirmation link was sent to you. Please click the link to start your subscription.