By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
Several months ago, Baxter Springs High School science teacher Kyle Crotts filled out an application for a national education contest by Samsung called “Solve for Tomorrow.”
Then he got busy, and forgot about it.
Last week, a box from Samsung was delivered to Crotts, and with it the news that his high school had been selected as one of 75 semifinalists in the contest.
“Whatever project we entered was to focus on using science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — in the classroom to focus on an environmental issue,” said Crotts, who is in his ninth year of teaching at Baxter Springs High School.
A project he started two years ago for his environmental science classes seemed to be a perfect fit.
“I wanted them to get out and make a difference and do something, so we started collecting paper for recycling at our high school,” he said. “It’s kind of grown, and now we collect from all over town — businesses, banks, the post office.”
In the past two and a half months, the students have collected 6,000 pounds. They take it to Fiberlite Technologies, in Joplin, on a borrowed trailer, where it is turned into insulation. They are paid 5 cents per pound, and to date have earned more than $1,000. It is kept in an account the students call their “Green Account.”
“We hope to eventually use it to help our school go even more green, we just have to decide how,” Crotts said.
But between now and Jan. 31, 2013, he and his students will focus on using what came in the box: A Samsung laptop, video recorder and editing software with which to create a two-minute video that answers Samsung’s challenge, “Show how science or math can help improve the environment in your community.”
The video is required for the school to advance to the final level of competition. Of the top 75 classrooms, 15 schools will win technology grants worth approximately $40,000, and their videos will be placed on Samsung’s website for the public voting round.
Science teacher Kyle Crotts said he hopes to one day have an enclosed trailer dedicated to his students’ paper-recycling program.