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Greater than STEM Essay Contest Winners

A few months ago, OSLN asked STEM students across Ohio to respond to our third annual essay contest. 

Tell us about a problem in your life, community, or world. How did you learn about it? How are you using STEM skills to solve it? 

After reading through dozens of submissions, we’d like to formally congratulate this year’s winners: Madelyn Zarembka and Madrica Arnold!

Read their essays below to learn how they use STEM skills to solve community problems– and listen to our podcast, Greater Than STEM, to hear other students tell their own stories. 

High School Winner: Madelyn Zarembka of NIHF STEM High School 

My name is Madelynn Zarembka, and I am a senior at the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School. During my time in both middle and high school, I have taken many honors courses, including Chinese, chemistry, calculus, and physics. Over the summer of my freshman year, I was given the opportunity to travel to China. I was able to use the Chinese I learned to communicate with people and develop a respect for their culture. I was also able to attend a school, where I could practice conversing with Chinese students my age. This was a fantastic cultural experience.

The major I wish to pursue is meteorology, and possibly a minor in broadcast journalism. This is an important field because not many women wish to pursue a STEM career. As a female in society going into a STEM field, I feel unique.

This made me decide to tackle the problem of carbon footprint in my community. I recently completed an after-school program at the elementary school I attended when I was younger. This was my senior capstone project called the Environmental Heroes Club with fifth graders. I believe this is important because educating the next generation of students can start a conversation about changing the way we live on our planet. Throughout the program, the students I was working with were very interested and how we need to do something about climate change very soon. I helped the students develop easy ways to make more environmentally friendly decisions.

The STEM skills I used were the capstone steps Identify, Investigate, Interpret, Ideate, Implement, and Inform – which are steps that I used to help get through my design process of creating and doing the after-school program. I went over different topics including waste, water, food and weather/carbon footprint, which are all environmental issues in today’s society.

Overall, I feel like I made a positive impact on my community by completing this after school program. I believe creating this after school program will be very successful in attempting to solve the problem of carbon footprint because elementary students will now be educated on how they can get involved to help save the environment. Since the next generation of students will be well educated on this issue, the future of global warming may be brighter.

Middle School Winner: Madrica Arnold of STEAMM Academy at Hartford Middle School  

How could I use STEM to help stop the food desert in my area? Food deserts occur when there is little fruit or veggies in an area. There is currently one in the area our school is in. There are multiple food deserts in Canton. I could create a community garden where we maintain and distribute the food.

One reason a school community garden would be a great idea is that we could also use the produce for the school. By doing this, we can save money on school projects if we use the produce and we could also eat some of the produce for lunch. The produce would especially be useful for science because of plant cells and other experiments. We could also have school challenges to see who can grow the most or best broccoli, carrots, etc. Having a school community garden would be great for the school.

Another reason a school community garden would be a great idea is that the students could learn community building. By helping the community, we learn how to work with others. Students could take turns keeping track of the produce teaching them how to do basic calculating work. Giving to the community builds great skills for others and ourselves. We as students could learn about our community and volunteering to improve it.

One more reason a school community garden would be a great idea is that it will help solve the food desert in our area. By giving out to the community we are helping to feed others and contributing to ending the food desert. Some students could also bring some of the produce home to their family. We could maybe even go on field trips around the area to give out the produce. There are many things that we could do with the produce to help end the food desert in our area.

In conclusion, there are many ways that a school garden could help end the food desert in our area. A school garden benefits our school because we could use the garden for many school activities. The garden would help the students learn more about the community. The school garden would help end the food desert in our community if we distribute it correctly.

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