A class of local students may rake in more than $100,000 in technology grants for their school, as Bridgehampton School has been chosen to compete among 75 semi-finalists in Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow national education contest.
All semi-finalists receive a camcorder, laptop and Adobe editing software to create a video that answers the challenge, "Show how can science or math help improve the environment in your community."
Environmental design teacher Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, whose application led to Bridgehampton School being chosen as a semi-finalist, will lead students in creating the video.
"The subject of our video will be centered around the school garden and how it serves to educate not only our local community but the international community, how it fosters an understanding of what real food is, where it comes from and how to grow it and how it inherently cultivates an appreciation for stewardship of the land," Carmack-Fayyaz said.
She explained that Bridgehampton students have worked on several environmental projects in recent years, including working with Wings Over Haiti to promote food self-sufficiency.
"Two years ago, one of our students flew to Haiti to construct a 50-foot-by-50-foot garden so that the community could grow their own food," Carmack-Fayyaz said. "Students back in Bridgehampton created short videos to show WOH community members how to start seeds and care for seedlings.
"Over this past summer, 10 Bridgehampton students met regularly to attempt to design and build a solar powered steam cooker to help the WOH community cook without using wood, which has become scarce in deforested Haiti. This was done under the auspices of a MIT program on invention. Closer to home, in our own community, students have been cultivating the school garden and working in the greenhouse for the past five years. Last year, we started to bring fresh produce into the school cafeteria and to promote healthy eating practices in our school community."
Carmack-Fayyaz said the students have been very invested in the garden and one even centered a student council election campaign on it.
"I believe that their passion and pride — and commitment to farming and the environment — will be reflected in the video," Carmack-Fayyaz said of Bridgehampton's students, adding, "Our digital photography students has been working with local professional photographers and have gained a true understanding of composition, lighting and the technical aspects of image production. This will greatly enhance our video and help to highlight our environmental message."
Should Bridgehampton win a technology grant, Carmack-Fayyaz said Bridgehampton School will adopt truly 21st century education practices. "With laptops, notebooks, camcorders, projectors, televisions and great editing software, our students could create videos, websites, blogs, podcasts and Skype with other schools."
In February, 15 finalists will win at least $40,000 in technology grants and their videos will be put up for voting on the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow website. The people's choice winner will be among the five videos to each be awarded $110,000 technology grants.