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Vote for HD Woodson

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vote for HD Woodson

HD Woodson Students

Fresh from Texas and ready to win! That’s the status of the HD Woodson Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) team, that just returned from Austin, Texas, where they presented their idea as a finalist in Solve for Tomorrow, Samsung’s nationwide STEM competition. They were chosen out of 2,300 applications from schools across the country to be one of the 15 finalists for the grand prize.

The idea: use the sun through solar panels to generate power to light up Marvin Gaye Park near the school, thereby making a community space friendlier, safer, and better for students and the larger community. With that idea, the HD Woodson team is now in the running to win $140,000 in classroom technology.

Last week, representatives of HD Woodson’s STEM program-- David, a junior, Terrence, a senior, Assistant Principal Courtney Wilkerson and STEM teacher Mr. Phillip San Gabriel-- visited Austin to present their solar-panel project at a Samsung event at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Education technology conference, an annual event that brings together the most innovative minds to work on education issues.

If they win, HD Woodson High School will receive a $140,000 grant to obtain technology resources—a huge help to their new STEM program which will launch into a full-fledged STEM academy next year. As one of the 15 finalists, HD Woodson has already received a $35,000 technology prize.

solar panels

David and Terrence are members of a 30-student team that spent countless hours outside of school working on the solar-panel project. As the two student representatives in Austin, they met the other school teams and even picked up a new mentor—David Boone, a STEM student from Cleveland who attends Harvard. They’re excited to share about their experience in Austin, but they really light up (pun intended) when explaining the project.

David:  “It’s about keeping HD Woodson students and anyone who walks through there safe. It also uses clean energy.”

Terrence: “It’s personal for me because I take the route through the park every day for school. But when I stay for extracurricular activities and it’s nighttime, I don’t want to walk in the park. Instead, I take the route around the park, but it also doubles the time to get home.”

This project has also cemented Terrence and David’s desires to pursue STEM careers. Terrence and David both want to study computer science or engineering one day. “I grew up loving computers and tinkering with technology, and I want a job that I enjoy doing,” said David, who aspires to attend MIT.

Their legacy will live on long after they leave for college. The school has partnered with developers and other community partners to help improve the park.  Besides solar lighting, Ms. Wilkerson envisions free wireless and free charging stations at the park, all powered by the sun.

 “The park should be an extension of our school campus. Our students work on problem solving skills while doing something positive for the community. I want students to look at the park and see the solar panels and the charging stations and feel a sense of pride, because they’re the ones who will make this happen,” said Ms. Wilkerson.

Some of that pride is already on display. The school made a video to cheer on David, Terrence, and the team in Austin. “I didn’t show it to them until we got to Texas,” said Mr. San Gabriel.

HD Woodson Teachers

Terrence and David broke into smiles when they watched the surprise video again. “It was awesome to know that so many people were supporting us,” said Terrence.

In the video, students dance along to Pharrell’s popular new song “Happy” while holding up “Good luck!” signs. HD Woodson Warriors are seen boogieing to lyrics like, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

For HD Woodson, who needs a roof when you’ve got the sun?

Vote TODAY for HD Woodson on Samsung’s site here! Voting ends today.