Goulds students pound the pavement in name of science and prizes

   A bid to develop a better kind of pavement that will prevent potholes has launched students in two Grade 9 classes at St. Kevin's High School into the late rounds of the Samsung Solve For Tomorrow Challenge.
   The students have already won $1,500 worth of Samsung technology for their school and are in the running to win further prizes of $20,000 and $50,000 worth of Samsung tablets, computers, cameras and other electronics.
   The project started when teachers Mike Schulz and Caitlin O'Brien saw the contest announced by Samsung and decided their students could give it a shot.
   "What Samsung wanted to do was encourage schools to find a problem in the community and find a way to use STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - to solve it," Shulz said.
   "Prior to submitting our application we met with and brainstormed with some grade 9 classes over what they thought were issues facing our community," said O'Brien. "They came up with a lot of great ideas. We then asked them how STEM could be applied to solve the problem. This narrowed down our 'problems,' and at the end of several sessions we took a vote in the class to decide which problem would be the basis of our application."
   The students' idea impressed the judges enough to make the first cut into a list of 55 semi-finalists across Canada, including four other schools in this province. The successful application earned the Goulds school a Samsung camera and tablet.
   "Basically we wanted to look at how pavement deteriorates, is it our climate that's the factor, is it the type of vehicles on the road - studded tires, that kind of thing," said Schulz.
   The students have been studying the composition of pavement and the conditions that cause deterioration and potholes to see if they can find a better way to make asphalt. Local contractor Leon Howse visited the school and gave a presentation on how pavement is made. He brought along a core sample of pavement that the students have been studying in the lab where they are learning how the freezing and melting of water inside the cracks of pavement affect its integrity. The theory is that the repeated freezing and thawing cycles in this province during winter leads to the creation of potholes.
   "Now we have to make a video demonstrating how we're going to solve our problem," Shulz said.
   "This video will then be used to determine the winners of $20,0000 in Samsung technology and a chance to win $50,000 in Samsung technology," said O'Brien. "Eleven of the 55 Semi-finalists will win $20,000 and two of these 11 will win $50,000. Our school and the grade 9 classes are really excited to have been chosen as one of the five semi-finalists in this province and are working hard towards completing our video with hopes to move on to the next round."

Posted on February 3, 2016 .