EAST at Helen Tyson Middle School and EAST at Cross County High School both won $6,500 in technology in Samsung's "Solve for Tomorrow" competition.
Last year ended with a bang for two excellent EAST programs, as EAST at Helen Tyson Middle School and EAST at Cross County High School were both declared state winners in the 2021 Samsung “Solve for Tomorrow” competition!
“Solve for Tomorrow” is right up EAST’s alley, as the annual competition offers over $2 million to schools across the country that find ways to use STEM to aid their communities. Sound familiar?
EAST at Helen Tyson Middle School took its share of the prize through the great work of Mollie, Ithziery, and Ella Kate. These three created flip cards to help people who can’t verbally communicate or speak English talk with bus drivers on Ozark Regional Transit.
However, after a meeting with ORT staff, the students learned of the company’s dream to have a chatbot on their website. So Mollie, Ithziery and Ella Kate combined the two projects to make public transportation in Northwest Arkansas more accessible than ever before.
“We took both ideas and combined them in our project submission,” the students said. “A virtual chatbot that relies on communication symbols instead of words to help people navigate local transportation systems regardless of what language they read or speak.”
The three girls are now coding the symbols they previously created in Canva into the website and hope to have the finished product up and running for everyone to use by the end of the school year.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, EAST at Cross County High School continues to add prestige to its program, with former Congressional Application Challenge winner Macie McCommon leading the charge in helping Village Creek State Park establish an online presence by using 360 cameras.
“We used the 360 cameras on each trail and are putting virtual tours on their website so people can click through the trail as if they’re actually there,” Macie said. “We did this so people could still experience the trail even if they aren’t able to walk it and help people figure out which trail is most suitable for them if they do visit the park.”
Each school received $6,500 in Samsung technology and classroom resources from winning this stage of the competition, and will now move on to the national competition to contend for even more prize money for their schools and communities. Regardless of the money or the national competition results, both programs were ecstatic about being recognized.
“We were so proud that we are able to be a part of something big, and we really appreciate this opportunity,” said the students at Helen Tyson Middle School. “We are looking forward to learning new things, helping our community, and the special steak dinner ORT promised us when our project is put into use.”
Macie, alongside her project partners Jenna Organ, Bo Cook, and Konnor Wilson, became emotional when she learned that her team had won the competition.
“We had just got back to the school after working on the trail, and that’s when I got the email saying ‘Congratulations,’ and I just started crying,” Macie said. “It made me feel so accomplished and proud that I did something that was recognized like that.”