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4th February 2016
EDITOR
Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 12:30 pm
By: Kristen Oelschlagel

A group of students at Dr. Brousseau Middle School are putting technology to a good use, trying to solve Bonnyville's water issues.

“We're looking at trying to improve some of the water quality at the school,” said principal Vince Spila. “It's always got the weird smell once in a while so the kids found that they'd rather bring their own bottled water. That being said, they wanted to start doing some experiments on the different types of water that's out there, the quality we have, and is there something we can do at our school to improve the water quality. Maybe just for our school, but maybe for the town too.”

The project was submitted as part of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge, which Dr. Brousseau School has been announced as one of the 55 semi-finalists for. Competing against schools across the country, they have the chance to win the grand prize of $50,000 in classroom technology.

Geared towards students in Grades 6 to 12, the challenge was designed to encourage curiosity and using STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) solutions to fix everyday problems in their local communities.

“We've been impressed by both the variety and the creativity of schools' STEM-based solutions to solve their local community issues,” said Mark Childs, chief brand officer for Samsung Electronics Canada.

Childs added, “From an anti-bullying app seeing students home safely, to an anti-freeze plumbing solution for Canadian winters, these are tangible, real world innovations that are wholly inspired by STEM. We can't wait to see how students bring these projects to life to benefit their communities across Canada.”

The Grade 8 French immersion class is the group behind the project at Dr. B. They got the idea from the student survey conducted at the school at the beginning of the year and, after a discussion with teaching staff, decided to move forward with studying the school's and town's water.

Now that the semi-finalists have been announced, each of the 55 schools is required to implement their proposed STEM solution, capturing the process in a three-minute video with the technology provided to them by Samsung.

“What our next step will be is we have different types of water testing systems. We borrowed a pretty expensive kit that the high schools use in their biology classes and we have two other water kits that we got from the Safe Drinking Water Society,” explained Spila. “The kids will do experiments to test different water with pH balance, alkaline quality and just all kinds of different qualities of the water.”

With the kits, the class of 18 students will be testing bottled water, raw water from Moose Lake and a sample of town water coming from the taps to see how the three compare.

“The plan is that they'll go to the water treatment system plant and go for a tour to see how they actually filter it and make the water as good as it is,” added Spila, noting that the students will be recording their entire process, which will be edited into their three-minute video submission.

Ultimately, the class would like to bring a solution to the school, such as installing a bottle refill station so students don't have to buy bottled water throughout the day.

For the Grade 8 students, while they might not benefit from whatever solution they find for long, they'll be leaving something for the school to remember them by.

“I think it'd be neat for them to leave some kind of legacy, not just on the school community but on the community (of Bonnyville) as well,” said Spila.

Out of the 55 semi-finalists, 11 will be chosen from the video submissions and awarded $20,000 in classroom technology, as well as the ability to compete in the final phase of the challenge this spring. From there, two grand prizes of $50,000 in classroom technology will be awarded. The winning schools will also host a celebration event featuring Mitch Moffitt and Greg Brown of AsapSCIENCE, and have their projects featured in an AsapTHOUGHT video.

For the local Catholic middle school, winning would ensure the students have access to the best and newest technology available.

“It would have alleviate some of the pressures of technology. With it getting older, there's not any more coming from the government to help with schools and their technology. So, we'd be able to get some great equipment kids can use in their com-tech classes,” said Spila. “We're excited about it for sure.”

For now, the students are excited to get started on the task at hand and put their minds and technology to work trying to better the community for tomorrow. Whether they win or not, Spila expressed that it's a great opportunity for the class.

“It's a chance to showcase the skills our kids have at the school and that they do care for the community and are looking to make the world a little bit of better place.”

The 11 schools moving on to the next round is expected to be announced on Mar. 22.

http://www.bonnyvillenouvelle.ca/article/Local-students-hoping-to-solve-Bonnyvilles-water-issues-20160202