Campbell High's saltwater-powered fan takes students to Samsung nationals


JCHS is one of 15 public schools named national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, which aims to encourage innovation while addressing the technology gap in classrooms across the country. They've won a $35,000 technology grant, and will present their project to a live panel of judges on March 18 in New York City. If named to the Top 5, they'll win a $120,000 grant.

​Vote for Campbell!​

The Community Choice Winner will be selected via online voting. Voting ends at 6:59 p.m. HST March 25​.

​​​​​​​Campbell High is among 15 public schools named national finalists in Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a competition to raise enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The school has won $35,000 worth of technology and can earn $120,000 if they're named to the Top 5.

The 15 teams were chosen from a pool of more than 3,100 applicants for their use of STEM skills to address an issue affecting their community. Topics ranged from ways to address water pollution to mosquito-borne illnesses to urban food deserts which they illustrated through a short video they submitted.

Campbell's team, under the direction of teacher Sam Tritto, submitted a solution to a problem they know all-too well — hot classrooms. While the state works toward deploying solar-powered cooling, the students came up with an excellent short-term solution: salt-water powered fans.

"Since saltwater is so abundant here and the heat at the beginning of the year was such a problem, it came kind of naturally," Tritto explained when asked how students chose the topic for the project.

"The students had heard about the state's plan to install a solar-powered AC system, so we thought it would be good for them to analyze these types of systems as far as the cost and efficiency," Tritto added. "They did a little of everything for this one: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math."


From the video: "When salt dissolves into water, it separates into positively charged sodium atoms, and negatively charged chlorine atoms. This is called an electrolyte, which creates an electrical charge: Thus powering a fan." Watch the video to see how they put it together.

As national finalists, the Campbell High team, represented by students Chris Calabacan and Samantha Hoover, will present their project to a live panel of judges on March 18 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.

The five national winners selected will receive a technology grant of $120,000. Here's how they will be chosen:

  • One — the Community Choice Winner — will be decided via online voting at (Voting opens at 7:01 p.m. HST March 1, through 6:59 p.m. HST March 25.)
  • One will be selected by Samsung employees
  • Three will be selected by the panel of judges at the national presentation in New York.

During the competition, approximately $2 million (estimated retail value) of technology and prizes will be presented by Samsung, Adobe, DIRECTV, Fortune, PBS TeacherLine, the National Environmental Education Foundation and Digital Promise. In addition to technology, each teacher who entered the contest received a professional development class from PBS TeacherLine.

Access contest lesson plans

Lesson plans created by teachers who were past participants of the Solve for Tomorrow Contest are now available to educators everywhere at the contest site. They offer creative and engaging ways to help students learn valuable STEM skills while applying them to address real-world issues in communities across the United States, filterable to STEM topic, grade and school subject.​

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