Blue Ridge, Snowflake JH classes make national finals

A Blue Ridge and a Snowflake Junior High School class are national and state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. The Snowflake class plan to use technology to explore an area outside of Snowflake that has a high concentration of sinkholes and bedrock fractures (cracks).

LAKESIDE & SNOWFLAKE — Blue Ridge and Snowflake Junior High School are one of of six classrooms across the country that made the final cut in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

There are a total of 300 state finalists in the program which is designed for 6th — 12th grade students.

In Arizona, Blue Ridge and Snowflake will not only be competing with one another but they will go up against two classrooms from the Academy of Math and Science Desert Sky in Phoenix, Sierra Verde Elementary School in Glendale and Sacaton Middle School.

“The Arizona State Finalist classrooms were chosen based on their creative strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning,” according to the press release issued by Olivia Gust of Allison and Partners. All 300 teachers that submitted proposals will receive a Samsung tablet for their classrooms and have the opportunity to advance in the competition.

BRJH project

“This is a project run through the junior high and high school Physics and Engineering Club that I run through the Blue Ridge University of Arizona 4-H Fab Lab,” explains Blue Ridge algebra/geometry teacher Fab Lab director Kevin Woolridge.

“In the face of drought that has caused … water to sustain wildlife to disappear, teacher Kevin Woolridge and his students have proposed creating a reliable, low cost sensor to remotely monitor water catchment tanks sustained by the Arizona Game and Fish Department,” explains Gust.

The junior high will be responsible for taking Blue Ridge student Ryan Flaherty’s water catchment design and “improving, building, installing and monitoring water catchment sensors,” explains Woolridge.

“The high school will be primarily responsible to research and development and the junior high will be responsible for creating an efficient manufacturing process and building the sensors as well as making design improvements and recommendations,” explains Woolridge.

Snowflake JH project

The national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, is a fantastic way to challenge students and make a difference locally, says Snowflake Junior High School STEM teacher Mike Eilertsen. “It encourages local kids to solve local problems. It is empowering for young people to realize they can make a difference. They have the ability to make a positive change.”

“In the spirit of exploration, students at Snowflake Jr High plan to use technology to shine some light on a geological mystery,” he explains.

“Starting on the western outskirts of Snowflake, lies a very unique type of geology... This area has a high concentration of sinkholes and bedrock fractures (cracks),” says Eilertsen.

“More details on the Snowflake student’s project will have to wait for a future date. After all, it is still a competition,” he reminds.

What’s next?

Teachers are required to submit the classroom’s STEM solution and a lesson plan describing how they will develop their prototype(s).

For more information about the contest, visit

Reach the reporter at

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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