Members of the 2018 middle school team at the national finals

ASHLAND Ashland Middle School and Paul Blazer High School are once again in the running for honors and thousands of dollars worth of technology hardware in a contest the middle school won in 2018.

The schools are among six in Kentucky named state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, in which students come up with workable solutions to real-world problems using science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM skills considered essential for the 21st century.

The competition is sponsored by Samsung, the Korean electronics corporation.

The middle school submitted a project proposal for assisting mobility-restricted students out of the building in emergencies and then accounting for their location, according to school technician John Leistner.

The high school’s submission is a device to stimulate nerves to enable handicapped people to engage in activities they would otherwise be incapable of, according to faculty sponsor Ryan Bonner.

The middle school team of about 20 students is in the research phase now, Leistner said. The high school team of about 12 students has produced an initial prototype and the next task for them is improving it, Bonner said.

Both teams will continue working on their projects and will submit project videos to Samsung. From those Samsung will select state winners, each of which receives $15,000 worth of high-tech hardware and advances to the national competition.

Samsung will choose 20 national finalists, each receiving $50,000 worth of technology and a trip to a national pitch event where judges will choose five national winners. Those winners each get $100,000 in technology.

They also get a trip to Washington D.C. to present their projects to members of Congress.

There also is a community choice winner, chosen by public voting on social media and awarded an additional $10,000 in technology.

AMS was one of the national winners in 2018, taking home $170,000 worth of state-of-the art hardware and software, and their 2019 team won the state competition earlier this year. That was worth $20,000 in technology.

They won the national prize for a device for first responders to use to safely pick up discarded hypodermic syringes.

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