Princeton and Brandywine high schools win nationwide STEM competition

The schools earned $100,000 grand prizes for their innovations.

Two Princeton High students and a teacher with their award

From left, Princeton High students Sofia Son and Hayah Mian and teacher Jacqueline Katz. (Courtesy Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition)

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Two of the three grand prize winners in the Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow national STEM competition are from the Philadelphia region.

Princeton High School in New Jersey won for their project that strives to preserve the vulnerable Mayan language Mam by creating an artificial intelligence–powered stuffed animal that allows people to practice the language. Brandywine High School in Wilmington, Delaware, claimed victory with their invention of an electronic board game that helps special education students connect with their peers.

Brandywine High students hold their award
From left, Brandywine High students Katherine McDerby, Malti John and Isabella Chermak. (Courtesy Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition)

The schools pitched their ideas before a panel of judges in Washington, D.C., on Monday. The winners were announced today.

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Both teams are excited about the $100,000 grand prize.

“The girls were so proud as they should have been, they did an excellent job,” said Jackie Katz, a science and research teacher at Princeton HIgh School, who accompanied the team to Washington, D.C. ”They were just living on that high.”

Students and a teacher from Brandywine High and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt
From left, Brandywine High students Olivia Erskine and Malti John, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Brandywine High students Katherine McDerby and Isabella Chermak and Brandywine High teacher Sean Merklin (Courtesy Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition)

Sean Merklin, a design and engineering teacher at Brandywine High School, said his students were equally ecstatic. Noting that his team was all-girls, he hopes this will inspire younger kids to get into STEM.

“I have seen firsthand how these girls that I have, through our club, advocate for women in engineering,” he said. “They have really been mentors and leaders, and just shining examples to these younger girls that are coming up.”

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This is the second time that each school has won in the competition.

Princeton notched its first win in 2022 for a project that used black soldier flies to break down food waste, demonstrating how the larvae can be converted to usable products such as animal feed and soap that relies on palm and coconut oil.

For Brandywine, last year’s winning project was an affordable alternative to assisted tech devices for people with independent living disabilities. This year’s team took home an extra $25,000 for winning the competition’s Rising Entrepreneurship Award.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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