Five P.E.I. schools have made it to the semi-finals of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge — a contest that has participants use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to come up with a creative community project.
By making it to the semi-finals, a round that includes 55 schools across the country, these schools have already secured $1,499.99 for new technology for their schools.
If any of the schools make it to the final round — only 11 are chosen — they could win an additional $20,000. The grand prize winner takes home an additional $50,000 for their school.
Charlottetown Rural High School
Charlottetown Rural High School is focusing on keeping young people on P.E.I. by building a website that will act as a resource to high school students.
"We decided that one of the areas that STEM could most impact would be to create an educated workforce to try and create a sustainable future for P.E.I.," said teacher Patricia Shields.
The website summarizes different careers in STEM fields, with what typical salaries come with those jobs, what skills and training they would need and what a typical day on the job would be like.
"It's a great way to keep our educated workforce on P.E.I. and draw other companies in so we have other sources of provincial revenue besides fishing, farming and tourism," said student Jamil Saleh.
Eliot River Elementary School
Eliot River Elementary School in Cornwall, P.E.I., took on a community-based project that planted trees.
"Each species of tree and plant on Prince Edward Island is going to be planted along the perimeter of our walking trail that goes around the school," said principal Ross McDermott.
Students will be creating labels for each species with a QR code that people can scan with their smart phones to learn more about each plant.
McDermott said the project will not only give students a learning opportunity, but will also allow them to leave a legacy.
"It's going to be awesome to get out there and plant some trees," said student Elsie Tweel.
"I like science," said Nevaeh Marshall. "I like to get dirty too — and go outside."
Montague Intermediate School
Grade 8 students at Montague Intermediate School are collecting rainwater from the school's roof to water a garden.
"A couple years ago we had a garden on the roof, but we couldn't do that anymore, so we have to make a machine to take all the water down," said student Eva Washington.
The students came up with a bunch of ideas to collect the water, and will build models to test the different systems.
"They're so innovative, they have all the ideas," said teacher Jim Morris. "We kind of give them the canvas in terms of what we're looking for and then it's just self-driven … they just find it very, very exciting to learn this way."
Students at Englewood School in Crapaud, P.E.I. are coming up with a plan to help stop erosion to the P.E.I. coastline — an issue that hits close to home.
"We looked at some data, did a simulation of how far its moved in 10 years, and then we actually went down there and looked at it," said teacher Kent Butler.
"We did some estimating about what's it going to look like when you're this age — so it became pretty real to them very quick."
The students also partnered with local watershed groups to look at some of the armouring that is being done to prevent erosion on P.E.I.'s coast.
"When someone says erosion I used to think this tiny little smidge gone into the ocean, but then when we went to go look at it, it was actually making a big significant difference on our coastline," said student Julia Hunter.
Elm Street Elementary School
Grade 6 students at Elm Street Elementary School in Summerside, P.E.I., grew vegetables for the school in an indoor greenhouse.
Students started researching which vegetables they could grow indoors in December and planting began toward the end of January, said teacher and vice-principal Jacqueline Reeves.
"We just planted some tomato plants last week, and they're actually starting to come up a little bit, so that's exciting," she said.
Tthe work is far from done, though. Students have to transplant some of the bigger plants, and have to research how much water and light they need to thrive.
"When they first started to grow, it was pretty cool because I honestly didn't know that you could grow a garden in the winter," said student Chelsea Ellands.
The lessons students have learned won't stop in the classroom.
"At my dad's house this summer, he said that he wants to make a garden. I was thinking maybe I could make a greenhouse for there," said student Noah Stanfield.