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Rhys Miller and his fellow ninth grade students at Vancouver iTech Preparatory High School are learning to collect field data about the plants growing on the banks of Mill Creek, which meanders through the new school's campus at WSU Vancouver.
Not only are students gaining valuable real-world science skills, but their project could win their school $40,000 in technology equipment.
Last week, the STEM-focused school (science, technology, engineering and math) was named among the 75 semi-finalists in Samsung's third annual Solve for Tomorrow national contest, which will be doling out $1 million in technology equipment to schools.
This fall, iTech Prep teachers Darby Meade and Mark Watrin had completed the application describing their school's research project.
As a semifinalist, the school received a Samsung camcorder and laptop and Adobe Elements editing software to create a video answering Samsung's challenge: "Show how STEM can help improve the environment in your community."
The school has until Jan. 31 to complete the video about students' field research along the banks of Mill Creek. The videos will be posted on Samsung.com for online voting, and the top 15 schools will receive technology grants worth about $40,000.
Next fall, the school hopes to expand its research to stream conditions and the recovery of plants and animals on Mount St. Helens.