The Greenbrier East High School InvenTeam has been named one of 50 State Winners in the 13th Annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition, receiving a $12,000 prize package. Solve for Tomorrow is a national competition that challenges U.S. public school students in grades 6-12 to explore the role science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) can play in solving some of the most significant issues in their local communities.
The competition engages students in active, hands-on learning applied to real-world problems – making STEM more tangible and showcasing its value beyond the classroom. State Winners participating in this year’s competition have boldly entered their game-changing ideas to tackle environmental sustainability, school safety, water conservation, health, and more. The opportunity educates students on STEM skills that are key to a 21st-century workforce and new approaches in STEM education that are vital.
The GEHS team will invent a cave rescue device to address the local issue of spelunkers who get lost and cannot find their way out of caves and coal mines in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, and surrounding areas. Currently, no quick, technological methods exist to mark clear paths to guide spelunkers back out of the caves they are exploring. The GEHS team’s solution to this problem is to invent a device that acts as a digital trail of breadcrumbs so spelunkers can find their way out or rescuers can find those who become lost.
Pre-engineering instructor Kevin Warfield states, “Most lost spelunker incidents arise due to lack of preparation and cave knowledge. We believe we can create a technological solution to prevent cavers from getting lost and help facilitate their safe return to the surface. Our team has discovered that low-frequency radio signals work best when establishing a deep underground connection. These frequencies are detectable above ground. Transmitters are also used for cave rescues as they generate and transmit electromagnetic waves that carry messages to the surface. However, the transponders do not transmit between 9 – 15 miles above the ground. We hope to implement that technology at shorter distances underground to develop our tracking system. The biggest benefactors of a technological solution to this problem would be cave explorers/spelunkers and search and rescue teams.”
State Winners will receive a video production kit from Samsung, which teachers and students will use to submit a three-minute video demonstrating how they’re using STEM to address their community issue.
In the next phase of the competition, the field of 50 gets narrowed to 10 National Finalists who will pitch their project to judges during an in-person event in May. Judges will name three teams as National Winners to receive a prize package worth $100,000. Seven other National Finalists each receive a $50,000 prize package. In addition, one of the 50 State Winners will be honored as a Sustainability Innovation Award Winner. Additionally, the public will be invited to vote online for one Community Choice Winner, and Samsung employees will name one team as this year’s Employee Choice Winner.