Back in January, MJ Linane’s ORR engineering students learned that the drone project they entered in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest had won them a hefty prize package worth $25,000 in technology for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) education at the high school as the statewide winners. Now, months later, the students were once again reminded of how ingenuity and cooperation can be a prize-winning combination.
On May 23, the engineering class was visited by a virtual Samsung Santa of sorts.
Linane watched the students unfold and open a large cardboard box crammed with all the modern day delights of modern day teens – Chromebooks, laptops, Wi-Fi speakers, and a big flat screen TV.
“Pretty sick!” Linane said while filming the students opening the box, which was later posted to Facebook. One of the students commented that it felt like Christmas.
As the students unpacked the big box, they discovered even more cool items, including the latest in vacuum technology.
“We got a Roomba!” Linane cried out. “That’s handy, right?”
The students pulled out about 40 Chromebooks in all. “We supplied half the school with more Chromebooks!” said Linane.
More unmarked boxes yielded a bunch of Samsung Galaxy tablets, touchscreen laptops, and a variety of different types of Chromebooks.
Pulling out the robot vacuum cleaner, one student said, “We should name it!”
They settled on “Henry.”
Back in September, Linane’s engineering students expressed an interest in drone technology and developing a drone tech program at the high school. The team drafted a proposal to submit to the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a national competition that challenges students to creatively use STEAM skills to address real-world issues and inspire change in their local communities.
The contest encourages students to explore the use of technology to address or solve a community-based issue. One essential characteristic of the Tri-Town, especially in Rochester, is the presence of cranberry growing and its significant economic impact on the region. And with the students’ interest in exploring drone technology, Linane saw the perfect marriage between technology and tradition.
The students designed a drone that could monitor soil conditions in cranberry bogs as climate change-induced seasonal droughts are dealing a direct impact on the cranberry industry. With the use of drones, farmers can implement targeted watering around selective areas of the bogs that are detected as being particularly dry.
“I thought it was fascinating,” Linane said. “It was cool.” The students designed and assembled the drones and coordinated with local cranberry growers to teach them how they could implement the technology at their own bogs.
Linane said UMass Dartmouth and the Cape Cod Cranberry Grower’s Association have contacted him with interest in partnering with the ORR teacher and his students.
“It’s been really great, a really great experience,” said Linane.
By Jean Perry