CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Students from a Chesapeake high school are celebrating their win at a nationwide problem-solving competition.
A team from Great Bridge High School competed last week in New York City at the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition.
The challenge encourages students in grades 6-12 to use STEM skills to address local issues in their community.
The team from Great Bridge was one out of three winners and took home a prize of $110,00, which included $10,000 as a part of winning a community choice award.
“I have been getting some congratulations every now and then. It’s a little nice,” said junior Donovan Carter. “It’s not like I’m worldwide famous, center of attention, but it’s nice to get recognition.”
Carter and his teammates presented their idea, AcceleRoute, before a panel of judges.
AcceleRoute uses technology to help make school bus routes more efficient amid the national bus driver shortage, which is affecting students in many Hampton Roads districts.
“The national bus driver shortage is nationwide. If this is able to be implemented well in our community, there wouldn’t be a lot of bar holding to impact other communities that would be wonderful to see it help other communities,” said senior Darren Labbe.
Their solution involves students swiping cards to get onto the bus, which would use app technology to create faster routes based on the students’ addresses.
The problem came to them after teammate Camille Kersha-Aerga’s little sister waited for her to get home after school for more than two hours due to bus driver shortages.
Carter helped come up with the solution because his father, a FedEx driver, uses scanning technology to update delivery routes.
The team took these ideas and is working with the district to implement them so students can get home faster after school.
“We’re very excited about our app being used,” said Kersha-Aerga. “We’re test-driving 100 buses coming this fall. We’re excited to see how this goes and how it will make an impact.”
The junior also hopes other students will see their work and jump into action to solve other issues.
“It also inspires younger generations to help the future. It’s not always about you. If you can do something that’s bigger than yourself,” she said, “It’s usually for the greater good.”
Electronics and robotics teacher Paula Labbe says she’s proud of the work the team has put in.
“One of the greatest rewards as a teacher is to see your students perform and achieve outside the classroom. It’s rewarding to see what they’ve taken, not just from my class but other classes, and apply that to a solution to help the community. I think that’s every teacher’s goal is to have students make the future better for everyone,” she said.
Labbe says the $110,000 will go toward classroom supplies and Samsung technology across the school. They’ll also be able to expand the courses available with the robotics department.
The team will also visit their congressional representatives in Washington D.C. later this month.
To learn more about AcceleRoute, click here.