Two NMU alumni teachers—Becky Simmons of Marquette and Yuriy Drubinskiy of Garden City, Kan.—each received $25,000 technology packages for their schools as state winners in the Samsung “Solve for Tomorrow” competition. They and other state champions will vie to become national finalists and ideally advance toward the top prize of a $150,000 technology grant.
Simmons teaches global science and science for inventors at Marquette Senior High School. She wrote the successful Samsung grant with Sara Cambensy, another NMU graduate who is director of Kaufman Auditorium and adult/community education at the Marquette Area Public Schools (MAPS). The $25,000 prize will help Simmons’ students explore solar energy use in Marquette.
“They will do research, prepare and administer a community survey, analyze data from existing solar panels in Marquette, and weigh the options for a potential solar panel install at the high school,” Simmons said. “Our hope is to install a panel to help us reduce energy costs and use it to teach our students and the general public about solar energy.
“Another idea we have is to install a ‘mock’ home within our school with appliances which would have meters on them showing the energy use. Students and community members could experiment with energy-saving ideas and track the impacts. It is a very rich plan with many moving parts. We are partnering with the Marquette BLP, Peninsula Solar, Energy Options and the Superior Watershed Partnership, along with many community members.”
Simmons also directs MAPS’ new makerspace. Some of her inspiration for creating the space came from her experience bringing students to the Hannewald Digital Learning Design Lab at NMU. Equipped with a variety of devices, the lab is intended to help education students and local teachers engage youth in technology projects.
“The students and I felt at home when we first walked through the doors,” she said. “We are passionate about technology and craved a place we could play and tinker without the shackles often felt in our traditional classes. I knew we needed something like that at MAPS. We wanted a lab for 3D printing, CNC use, programming, robotics and other activities, but we also wanted a comfortable place that was efficient for collaboration among teams of students. “
Drubinskiy is working with Garden City High School students to address water issues in Kansas. They are studying the dwindling Ogallala Aquifer and will use technology such as sensors and microcontrollers to facilitate more efficient water use. To see a TV news report on his win at the state level, click here.