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Clear Creek Middle School named Oregon State Winners for nationwide competition

COURTESY PHOTO: GRESHAM-BARLOW SCHOOL DISTRICT  - Clear Creek students cheer as they find out they were named the Oregon State Winners in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. Clear Creek Middle School has been named Oregon State Winners in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, winning the school $6,500.

The nationwide competition challenges students in grades 6 to 12 to creatively use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address real-world issues in their communities while also keeping sustainability in mind.

Clear Creek STEAM teacher Tom Erickson and his middle school students' proposal tackled Gresham's homeless issue. Their proposal would build a series of warming stations along the light rail line that would be powered by wind turbines that will allow homeless community members to access basic services.

"Basically our idea is to use vertical access wind turbines and put them by the MAX stations," said Clear Creek eighth grader Aliyah. "And when the trains go by it will produce energy that will warm the unsheltered."

Their proposal started when Erickson told all of his students about the opportunity earlier in the year. About 17 of them were interested in being part of the competition. Erickson then developed the proposal and the group will now dedicate time after school about twice a week to make the proposal a reality using their STEM skills.

"It isn't easy to get middle schoolers to give up two days after school so I knew these kids cared about the project and wanted to represent the school in a positive way," said Erickson.

"I wasn't really expecting we would win," said Jenna, a Clear Creek sixth grader who is part of the Solve for Tomorrow team. "I was definitely excited when I got the news."

State winning classrooms were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning. Clear Creek was selected from a pool of over 1,000 applicants.

Next, the Clear Creek crew are tasked to develop a prototype to help present their project to a panel of judges. Seven schools are then selected as National Finalists and awarded $50,000 in technology and supplies.

The remaining three are named National Winners and will receive $100,000 in classroom technology and supplies.

The State winners also received a video kit to record their process as they develop their prototype in hopes that it will help with their proposal. The City of Gresham's sustainability office and TriMet are also helping the group with their project.

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