Tucker Middle School won an additional $15,000 in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest after winning the Community Choice Award.
In April, Tucker Middle was named one of 10 national finalists in the 11th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest—a nationwide education competition which challenges students in grades 6-12 to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address local issues and inspire change in their communities.
As a national finalist, Tucker Middle won $65,000 in Samsung technology and classroom supplies for their project to combat human trafficking at the Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport—created while splitting their school time between the classroom and at-home virtual learning. The school won an additional $15,000 through the community choice award, which was voted on by the community.
Nathan Williams, the teacher who guided the STEM project, said winning the additional $15,000 is overwhelming.
“DeKalb has always been incredibly supportive of our educational initiatives, and I can’t brag on the local Tucker community enough for their vocal and tireless support,” Williams said. “We’re thankful to everyone locally and around the nation that voted for us. It’s humbling.”
For their STEM project, the students proposed creating a silent alarm unit located inside each airplane bathroom to combat human trafficking. Once engaged, a silent alarm would trigger, immediately notifying on-site authorities. Information regarding the unit, including instructions and a warning of consequences if misused, would accompany each unit in multiple languages. Engaging the unit required precise actions, as to avoid unintentional engagement by curious children, an accidental bump, or the custodial staff while cleaning.
Williams said he plans to use the prize money by setting up an innovation lab at Tucker Middle.
“This will be a space where all students, not just our STEM-cohort students, will have the opportunity to learn new skills using cutting-edge technology…and have some fun in the process,” he said. “We hope, a little further down this road, to open the lab up to the local DeKalb community as well. The more folks excited about STEM, the better chance we have of successfully tackling the daunting global challenges we all face together.”
Williams said he hopes that his students learned from this project that anyone willing to work hard enough can effect positive change in the world.
“Our students are brilliant; they also worked incredibly hard, persistently, for months, overcoming obstacles and setbacks along the journey,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group of students.”