By Karen Stokes
Samsung announced that Golda Meir School was selected as the State Winner for Wisconsin in the 13th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM competition.
The project they designed and developed was a modular hydroponic system to tackle present environmental and supply chain issues the farming industry is facing.
Abigail Hodges, STEM teacher at Golda Meir explains, “A hydroponic system is an agricultural method to grow crops using a nutrient solution instead of soil and so if you can use a nutrient solution instead of soil, that means you’re able to grow crops that aren’t able to grow in certain climates or conditions because your not using the soil you’re using a water solution to provide them their nutrients.”
“A modular hydroponic system is a system that can be assembled into units, so you have a singular unit that can be added to other units to create a system so you have a smaller independent system that can be added to other smaller independent systems to create a larger system, sort of how Legos are built,” she said.
The students added their thoughts on the project.
“For our purposes it tends to help society with urban food deserts. In Milwaukee, food deserts are certainly an issue. By having these units you can grow crops in your own home. You can do community gardens more easily and it’s more spatially efficient,” said Ethan Olson, senior.
“One thing that was very important to us in this design is that it could be applicable to both a household setting and a family could use it if they wanted their own small farm for fresh produce and on a larger scale like a community garden, that’s where the modular part of the design comes from,” Luke Bender, senior.
Solve for Tomorrow challenges U.S. public middle and high school students to explore the role STEM can play in solving some of the biggest issues in their local communities. The competition engages students in active, hands-on learning that can be applied to real-world problems – making STEM more tangible and showcasing its value beyond the classroom.
The award meant a great deal not only to the students but also the school.
“It’s really about the advancements of opportunities at Golda Meir. This is the first time that we’ve had this class so we hope that by having some success in the class that will continue to be held at Golda Meir and also just the use of those funds towards progressing opportunities inside the classroom,” said Carson Patel, senior.
“One of the issues is it requires a lot of upfront cost to develop these systems. The materials to create the system but they can be energy expensive so we had to use solar energy. The cost of electricity can disproportionately affect people who have lower income, even though in times it pays for itself several times over,” said Hodges.
The class was officially awarded a $12,000 prize package.
Philip Johnson, senior, “With the money we will basically give back to our community, give back to Golda, make sure we have more opportunities around our engineering area and possibly make more hydroponic systems because it’s a successful project that we’re doing.”
“This class is about thinking through problems and solutions and creating something that may seem trivial or insignificant but actually be a solution to a real problem that is occurring,” Hodges said.