An idea developed by the Career Tech Networking and Cybersecurity class has made Mansfield Senior High School one of five Ohio finalists in the $2 million Samsung 2018 Solve for Tomorrow Contest.

Nationally, 250 schools – five from each state – will now compete to be one of three national winners named in the spring, each of whom will receive $100,000 in Samsung classroom technology and supplies.

Ann Wood, Samsung’s senior director of corporate citizenship, said thousands of schools in grades 6-12 entered the competition to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to find creative solutions to real-world issues impacting their local communities.

The Senior High project is development of a smartphone app that would increase the safety of students who walk to school. “The idea originated with one of our junior girls who talked about how she felt uncomfortable about a stranger who pulled his car alongside her as she walked to school,” said Nick Boller, instructor in the Networking and Cybersecurity class. “Basically, the app we envision would allow a student to hold their smartphone against them with the camera pointed out to take a video and photo of anyone they believed to be a threat. We are working on having the app prevent any awareness that the camera is in use.”

At the touch of a button, Boller said, the photo and video could be sent to preset recipients. The app will have options to send GPS location coordinates along with short audio and/or video clips of the situation.

The young woman whose experience led to the app idea asked not to be identified by name. She walks to school because she lives too close for bus service. “It happened to me twice,” she said. “A guy in a low, dark car drove up as I was walking and started talking, suggesting that I get in the car. When I got to school I filed a police report, but I realized that I couldn’t describe anything except that it was a guy in a low, dark car. This app would allow a photo and video that could lead to identifying people like that. It would also provide more peace of mind to parents.”

Senior High emerged as an Ohio finalist after Boller submitted a detailed concept of the app proposal, tentatively called “Safe Walker.” He and his students now have until Dec. 10 to develop an Activity Plan that details exactly how the app would work.

“Our junior class will lead the project work because they came up with the idea, but our seniors will be involved too,” Boller said.

As a state finalist, the Networking and Cybersecurity class received a Samsung Tablet. By Feb. 15 Samsung will select 50 state winners, each of whom will submit a video of their project in action. Forty of those schools will receive a $20,000 Samsung technology package, while the other 10 will be announced as national finalists in March.

Each of the 10 finalists will receive a $50,000 prize package and a trip to the finals event. Each school will present its project to a panel of judges in April. The seven not selected as national winners will receive $50,000 technology packages.

The general public will be invited to vote online for their favorite among the 10 finalist projects. Winner of the Community Choice Award will earn an additional $10,000 Samsung technology package.

Joining Mansfield Senior High as Ohio finalists are Noble Academy, Lincoln PK-8, Westland High School and Fairfield High School.

Source: Mansfield City Schools

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