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Top Student Scientists Eye Grand Prize in Samsung’s STEM Contest

by Samsung Newsroom

Lawrence High School’s ENLACE, Lawrence, MA

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, a high school team of English-language learners new to the community were driven to help their new neighbors after a series of gas explosions in rocked their town and environs, a tragedy that destroyed dozens of homes and claimed the life of a teenager. Using a 3D printer, the students designed a safety valve to help prevent future gas line blasts due to high pressure – and earned themselves the National Finalist title in the contest.

Team teacher Shaddai Vargas, an art teacher in Lawrence High School’s ENLACE (Engaging Newcomers in Language & Content Education) program, said that their efforts to address the threat garnered much media attention, as well as interest from the gas company responsible.

“They looked at our prototype and were amazed because it had a lot in common with a safety device they were planning on buying,” Vargas said. “That let us know that we were going in the right direction, and students felt really proud of their work.”

Vargas’s students have faced an added challenge in the contest to overcome language barriers while learning the STEM skills critical to designing the prototype, but said the results have been worth it.

“Students realize that all their efforts will serve as scaffolding for upcoming students’ efforts, which has given them even more purpose,” said Vargas. “It’s an honor for us to be able to raise awareness among schools about implementing STEM and show how it can align with community needs.”


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