NJ Teachers Urged to “Solve for Tomorrow” With Samsung STEM Contest; PSEG has Money for After School Programs

Ridgefield Park-based Samsung Electronics America and its partners DirecTV and Adobe are once again sponsoring the Solve for Tomorrow program. The total amount of prizes this year is $2 million.

The program aims to raise awareness of and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education across America by challenging teachers to create enthusiasm among their students for STEM learning. Teachers can enter online through October 31, 2013.

Jefferson Township Middle School (Oak Ridge, N.J.) was one of the top five winners of the contest in 2012. To get an idea of what the kids did, see this YouTubevideo. A Samsung spokesman told NJTechWeely.com that many New Jersey schools have already participated in the program.

The company has also become involved in the startup scene and on Sept. 9, 2013, launched an accelerator in New York.

Lack of proficiency in STEM has become a barrier for American children and to future U.S. competitiveness abroad, said David Steel, executive vice president of corporate strategy for Samsung Electronics America.

Samsung says it created Solve for Tomorrow in 2010 to foster sustainable innovation and address the technology gap in classrooms across the country. The program will help the United States maintain its economic and technological global leadership for years to come, Steel said.

According to a statement, Solve for Tomorrow’s scope has expanded with regard to both the total prize amount and the challenge that contest participants are asked to answer. The focus in prior years was on improving the environment in the students’ local communities. This year’s challenge continues to include the environment but also other ways STEM can better the students’ communities.

Last year more than 1,600 classrooms across the country entered the contest, and 75 semifinalists received a technology kit — a Samsung camcorder and laptop and Adobe editing software — to compete in the contest’s video phase. Fifteen finalists selected from that pool won additional technology prizes plus the opportunity to be chosen as one of five winners celebrated at a Washington, D.C., event.

This year 255 state finalists will each receive two Samsung tablets, and 51 state winners (representing all 50 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C.) will each receive technology packages estimated at $20,000. From that pool of 51, the public will choose 15 semifinalists (who will receive technology packages worth $30,000) from February 14, 2014, to March 13, 2014.

Five grand prize winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. A special prize valued at $50,000, the Environmental Innovation Award, will be chosen by the National Environmental Educational Foundation (NEEF) and awarded to one of the 51 state winners.

PSEG Science Spark Partner Program

The PSEG Foundation, which is based in Newark, is accepting applications from after school, summer and youth development programs to develop new or enhance STEM educational opportunities for students. The program has a total of $160,000 to award.

The foundation will award funding to extracurricular activities serving youth in the company's electric and gas service territory in New Jersey. They will also award programming in Salem and Cumberland counties.

The foundation expects that about eight organizations will be funded, based on the "strength of the proposals received," according to a statement. The amounts will be awarded "at the discretion of Foundation staff." Applications (found here) must be completed by Monday Oct. 21, 5PM. Notifications will be made in late November.

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