Sachse High School students are finalists in STEM ideas competition

Students at Sachse High School have a shot at winning millions of dollars in technology for their school.

The school is a finalist in a nationwide contest, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Content, awarding the top STEM projects that affect change in their communities. The winning schools will split a total prize jackpot of $3 million.

Sachse High School is one of 100 schools across the country that have made it this far, already winning $15,000. But they’re hoping to advance further with an idea to reduce air pollution from vehicles in their community.

“The brake pads are made of toxic metals, heavy metals. Its kicked up into the air and blown out into the neighborhoods,” said Erik Bushland, animations teacher, Sachse High School. “There’s a lot of health effects that are associated with the emissions.”

Sachse students said they’ve learned a lot as they’ve worked on their idea.

“I haven’t really put much thought to it but seeing all the things and all the health problems they can cause is crazy,” said Gabriela Terwilliger, junior.

They’re hoping to design air purifiers made from recycled materials that can attach to light poles on city streets and possibly use solar power to filter out harmful toxins and particles in the air.

“There are tens of thousands of light poles around so even if it did just a little bit when you start multiplying. If the cost is effective then it starts having a major effect as we spread it out,” Bushland said.

Students are still working on a design, but hope to print some of their materials using a 3D printer and other technology.

“One day i’m just doing regular class work, and then now I’m like trying to fix real world problems and it's pretty crazy. But it’s nice knowing you’re actually helping society and everybody, you’re doing your part,” said Payton Siddall, sophomore.

Sachse High School is among 100 schools competing for five slots to present their ideas in Washington D.C. to members of congress.

Though students and teachers on the project hope to win, if they succeed in making their idea reality, it could have far-reaching effects beyond the contest.

“The more devices we have out there, the more air we can filter out and clean and make it better for the region,” Bushland said.

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