By DEB HILL | News-Argus Managing Editor (November 27, 2019)
Lewistown Junior High GIS Club members pose with their faculty advisors after hearing their Samsung Solve for
Tomorrow entry will be one of the state finalists. Shown are (bottom, from left) Lexi Breidenbach, Julia Kunau, Jake
Smith, Maddie Denton; (second row from left) teacher Susan Flentie, Kylee Peterson, teacher Katherine Spraggins,
Wyatt Elam; (third row, from left) Rylee Mitchell, Ava Assenmacher, Kylie Moline, Carter Ricks; and, (top row, from
left) Anna Welsh, Brooklynn Behl, Lauren Plagenz, Landon Burleigh and Fischer Brown.
Photo courtesy of Suzie Flentie
They say nothing succeeds like success, and apparently the Lewistown Junior High eighth grade science students have taken that to heart. For the third year in a row, and the fifth time overall, local junior high students are state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.
This year members of the Junior High’s GIS Club submitted a proposal addressing school safety in the event of a school shooter incident. Teachers Susan Flentie and Katherine Spraggins assisted the students.
Working with local manufacturer HCR, Inc., the students proposed creating a prototype door shield, something like a sideways window blind, to create a barrier between an active shooter and a classroom full of students. The innovative proposal secured Lewistown Junior High a State Finalist position, along with Hellgate High School in Missoula; the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind in Great Falls; Polson Middle School; Simms High School and Whitefish Middle School.
The Lewistown Junior High was selected as one of 300 state finalist schools across the country, out of more than 2,000 entries. While this year’s Montana state winner won’t be chosen until the end of December, as state finalists the students have already won a Samsung tablet for their classroom.
Should the Junior High be selected as the Montana state winner, the school will receive $15,000 worth of technology and classroom materials, as well as a video kit. Only 100 schools nationwide will be selected as state winners.
Twenty of those schools then compete for the chance to present their project to a panel of judges, where five will be selected as national grand prize winners. The five nationalgrand-prize winners receive $50,000 in technology and a trip to Washington, D.C. to present their projects to members of Congress.
But for Flentie, Spraggins and the GIS Club students, there’s still a long road ahead. First they will need to refine their proposal. In addition to the door shield, the proposal also includes an optional tear gas dispensing system activated remotely from within a classroom, and a defense box with objects to throw at a shooter to improve the chances of survival. The students must submit a more detailed Activity Plan for the next round of the contest.
“The students do the majority of the project,” Flentie said.
“My GIS club has already been involved in the brainstorming process. Now Mrs. Spraggins and I will work with them on the detailed Activity Plan.”
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this 2019-2020 school year, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest is intended to foster critical thinking and creative problem solving skills.
“Since launching the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest a decade ago, we’ve seen students tackle some of the biggest issues facing their generation and this year is no different,” said Ann Woo, senior director of corporate citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “From suicide prevention to single use plastic alternatives, teachers and students are stepping up to creatively address these important issues head-on. We’re thrilled to congratulate the State Finalists of the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and look forward to seeing these STEM projects progress in the coming months.”