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    Minnesota High School’s Science Program Wins More Than $20,000 in Samsung Technology Contest

    COON RAPIDS, Minn. (Feb. 20, 2014) -- A Minnesota high school’s new and cutting edge biomedical sciences program is getting some pretty serious national recognition.

    Coon Rapids High School's program was recently named a state finalist in Samsung’s “Solve for Tomorrow” contest, not only earning the school recognition as one of the country’s best Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) schools, but also a technology prize-package valued at more than $20,000.

    “Honestly, I haven’t stopped smiling. I’m still in disbelief,” said Leah Sams, the school’s biomedical program coordinator, about the prize.

    Sams said she isn’t quite sure what the $20,000 will get the school and the program, which, with 160 students, is nearly twice as large than expected. She said planning is underway on what to buy—laptops, tablets and other tools, or a mix of all of them, are on the table.

    “Since we started (the program) this year, we’ve been trying to come up with technology solutions,” she said.

    With so many students, and plans to grow, Sams said there have been serious discussions about finding solutions to what she called “a technology problem.”

    “The laptops we have were supposed to get us out a couple years with some growth,” she said. “We’re kind of maxed out there, and we can’t grow the program without expanded technology.”

    Considering how new the CRHS Biomedical Science program is, Sams said she was skeptical the school would get any kind of award when she first entered. The annual contest invited entrants to “show how STEM can be applied to help improve your local community.”

    Sams said the CRHS entry was simple, just a one-page submission about how the biomedical program is educating students about cardiovascular disease, among other things.

    More than 2,300 applicants entered, and CRHS made the cut as one of the top 255, earning the school two Samsung laptops and a chance to advance further in the contest. This involved Sams and the school submitting a three-page lesson plan illustrating what the program is doing to involve the community.

    CRHS science teacher Kelly Schmidt’s lesson plan expanded on the cardiovascular disease topic, illustrating ways the students are serving the community, including the creation of a heart disease risk reduction program and informational flyers, which will be utilized by Anoka County’s Health and Wellness Team.

    “I was really, really skeptical that we’d go any further,” Sams said. But in December, CRHS was named one of the 51 state finalists, and the recipient of the $20,000 prize-package. The school also had a chance to be one of 15 national finalists to vie for a trip to Washington, D.C., to make their case to win one of the five $140,000 technology-package grand prizes.

    Sams said the school and some students created a great three-minute video to submit to Samsung, but learned on Feb. 19 that the school wouldn’t be moving forward.

    “The quality of all submissions—including your entry about improving the local community’s cardiovascular health was exceptionally high,” wrote David Steel, an executive vice president with Samsung, who oversees the contest. “You and your students are to be congratulated on what you have achieved.”
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