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Franklin Students Seek $110,000 Prize for LA River Project

The students are one of fifteen finalist for their study of storm water pollution in the Los Angeles River.

Students in Jomel Villamil's AP Environmental Science Class at Franklin High School are eligible to win a $110,000 reward for their recent study of storm water pollution in the Los Angeles River, and they are calling on the community's support to earn that prize.

Franklin was one of 15 schools across the entire United States to be chosen as a finalist in Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow competition. More than 1,600 schools entered the contest.

According to Villamil, the students' two-minute video documenting their L.A. River study has already won Franklin $40,000 in technology and supplies from Samsung. The five schools to receive the most votes for their video on Samsung's contest page will win a $110,000 technology package from Samsung and be invited to attend an awards ceremony in Washington D.C.

Franklin is currently holding on to the fifth spot with 457 votes.

You can view all 15 videos here.

Villamil told Patch that Franklin students frequently participate in projects that find real world applications for their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum, so entering the Samsung competition was a non-brainer.

"When I heard of this Samsung contest, I thought to myself that we have been doing this (applying STEM in improving our environment) in our curriculum, so why not submit our project for consideration and see how it goes!" he said "To my surprise, we got this far!"

In total, the project required about 120 hours of work from the students, including "outside lab work plus additional classroom hours spent for data discussions and analysis," Villamil said.

Win or lose, Villamil said his students learned some valuable lessons applying what they learn in the classroom to the world outside of it.

"The project showed how classroom curriculum can connect with the real-world. That the world is an even bigger classroom. Students got to explore their environment (some don't even know that the concrete flood channel is the LA River)," Villamil said. "Students learned various lab skills as they performed various water quality tests. They also carefully collected data, applied critical thinking skills as they analyzed their data, made inferences and came to a conclusion. Moreover, the students came up with creative, workable solutions. Needless to say, they worked collaboratively and learned to work as a team. And yes, everyone is now an environmental sustainability advocate."

Mark Nishinaka February 14, 2013 at 03:17 PM
As of today (2/14/13) FHS is in 1st place, 1600 votes ahead of a school from Florida. I think this is newsworthy enough for daily updates on the vote count. Also, at this point, FHS is not only representing Highland Park, but also LAUSD, the city of Los Angeles and the state of California. I myself is encouraging all of my friends (regardless of any affiliation with FHS) on facebook not only to vote, but to vote daily. I think it would be great if the PATCH can cover this story every day until the 5th of March. It would be like picking up a newspaper to read the box scores of the baseball games played the night before. It would also be nice so that I can post the story on my FB every morning.
Mark Nishinaka February 18, 2013 at 06:05 PM
The Florida school has taken advantage of the holiday weekend and has now pulled within 400 votes of the Franklin High School lead. Not only does FHS need continued votes, but they now need new voters in order to win this contest. Please share the link https://pages.samsung.com/us/sft/video.jsp and encourage everyone you know to vote. If you are already registered to vote, please remember to vote every day. If you are not registered, click on the vote tab and it will direct you to the Samsung Contest site. You will just need to give your name an e-mail address and zip code. Then you will need to check your e-mail to validate the account. We need everyone to vote once a day until the contest is over. Please note that you will need to check your e-mail after each vote (each day) in order to authenticate it. The contest ends March 4th, so everyone needs to vote every day. This is a National contest. Franklin is not only representing Highland Park, but also the LAUSD, city of Los Angeles and the state of California. It would be nice if our local PATCH would help in the school's efforts to win this contest by keeping the story fresh.
J Villamil March 12, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Thanks everyone for your support! Franklin High School is officially a Grand Prize Winner in the Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Contest. Awarding ceremony will be on April 16-17 in Washington, DC. We couldn't have made it without your support! Thanks Mark Nishinaka, Creper Chimone, Don Quijote and Dave Fonseca for rallying the community behind us! http://samsungusanews.mediasilo.com/weblink/799E7F8CF8C4E4717564558CC84B6B02/
Mark Nishinaka April 03, 2013 at 05:09 AM
Dear Mr. Villamil. Some FHS Alum who live in the DC area have inquired through facebook if it would be possible to attend the award ceremony and meet the students. Is there a way they can get in touch with you for more details? Thanks.
J Villamil April 04, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Hello Mark! Unfortunately, the awarding ceremony is private and "by invitation" only. I will try to see if Samsung can add guests to its list. Could you please have our alumni contact me via the school website at franklinhs.org? We can exchange contact information there. Thank you!

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