Applied Math Collaborative Named State Finalist in Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest

Ashley Hong, Staff Writer

Ward Melville’s Applied Math Collaborative was named one of the five New York State finalists in the 2014-2015 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. There were 3,100 applicants throughout the nation, and Ward Melville High School was selected as a state finalist, along with IS98 The Bay Academy, Rondout Valley High School, Ticonderoga High School, and Berlin Jr./Sr. High School. Each school was rewarded two Samsung Galaxy Tabs to aid in classroom instruction. The five schools will now compete for the State Winner position, and the winner with receive a video technology kit and a technology package valued at $20,000.

The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest allows schools in the United States to raise an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. The competition poses a challenge to students and teachers: “Show how STEM can be applied to help your local community.”

In Phase 1 of the contest, teachers completed the online application, which was used to determine the five finalists from each state plus the District of Columbia. In Phase 2, the finalists will submit a lesson plan outlining how they will address the idea that they submitted in Phase 1. In Phase 3, a State Winner will be chosen and will receive a Samsung camcorder and laptop, which will be used to produce a video demonstrating their solution to the challenge. The State Winner will receive $20,000 in technology for their school.

In Phase 4 of the contest, fifteen National finalists will be chosen out of the 51 State Winners, and their videos will be displayed online for public voting. All National Finalists will receive $35,000 in technology for their school. In Phase 5, five National Winners will be selected from a pool of fifteen National Finalists. One will be decided through online voting, another will be chosen by Samsung employees, and three will be selected by a panel of judges based on the presentations of the fifteen National Finalist projects. Each of the five winners will receive a technology grant of $120,000. In Phase 6 of the contest, the five National Winners will be invited to an awards celebration in Washington, D.C.

The Applied Math Collaborative, Ward Melville’s new statistics club, has been hard at work since the beginning of the school year. In addition to encountering real-life applications of statistics and learning about topics not covered in the AP Statistics curriculum, the club spent several weeks brainstorming ideas and trying to choose the best one to present to the competition. Their final decision strives to improve the safety of the community through methods that will be considered through statistical tactics.

Mrs. O’Brien, Ward Melville’s AP Statistics teacher and Applied Math Collaborative advisor, was “shocked” when she heard the news. She explained that as the club devised various ideas, “we had an easy time finding problems, but a hard time finding things that we could actually solve.” They also had to eliminate several good ideas because these concepts didn’t fit the criteria of the competition. Ms. O’Brien continued, “it was not as strong an entry as we would have liked because we needed something we could try to solve.” When the students in the club found out about the finalists, “they were surprised that they got this far, but happy.”

As part of Phase 2 of the competition, lesson plans of their proposed idea will be due by December 1, 2014. Members of the Applied Math Collaborative are continuing their hard work in the competition, and will wait in anticipation for the announcement of the New York State Winner.