Tina Mozingo, Instructional Technologist at Baxterville, first learned of the Samsung grant in the fall. She then approached fellow teacher, Johshonda Robertson, to assist her in submitting the initial grant application in Phase One of the competition. The teachers were ecstatic to learn in November, that their efforts paid off in winning a Samsung laptop and video camcorder for the school. They were also invited to then use the won equipment to create a video to submit for Phase Two of the competition. According to Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Contest site, "Samsung and its partners called on public school teachers to raise student interest in science, technology, engineering and math by inviting them to answer the challenge, 'Show how science or math can help the environment in your community.' More than 1,500 application essays came from teachers and students across the country. The top 75 were chosen and sent video production kits containing a Samsung laptop, camcorder and software from Adobe."
To better be able to answer Samsung's challenge, the teachers began researching environmental concerns in their area. They then approached Dr. David A. Burke, adjunct professor at Auburn University in Montgomery, and Dr. Mac Alford, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi, for assistance. Mrs. Mozingo was able to contact Dr. Burke's after finding his book, Atomic Testing in Mississippi, while researching the Tatum Salt Dome Test Site. Dr. Burke was then interviewed and will be visiting the school to present information on the nuclear testing to the students later this Spring.
The teachers then contacted Dr. Alford to discuss what possible outcomes could be expected in the area due to the nuclear testing of the 1960s and other environmental factors. Dr. Alford agreed to begin a research collaboration between graduate students in USM's Biology Department and the Jr. High Science students of Baxterville School. He visited the school and took several teachers and students to a local creek to begin gaining an idea of what type of water sampling project could be conducted. He will continue to work with the students and Science teacher, Jeff Rayborn, for data collection in an ongoing basis.
After researching and through the video production process, the teachers were able to condense the information into a two minute video to submit in Phase Two of the competition. Tina Mozingo expressed that, "the most rewarding part of the experience was seeing the excitement on the students' faces when they realized that they could have jobs and get paid for 'playing in creeks and ponds.'" On February 4th, the teachers were pleasantly surprised again when they learned that they had won Phase Two in the competition. At this phase, they won $40,000 in addition technology equipment from Samsung. The two minute video is being featured on the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow website for voting in the Final Phase of the competition.
"We are proud of the hard work our teachers and students have put into winning this grant for our school. It is important that we are able to expose our students to technology and all the resources that go along with it. This will be a great asset to have, especially with the budget cuts happening each year in school districts across the state. This is an amount of technology that we may otherwise not have been able to afford for our classrooms," says principal, Martha Smith.
Supporters will be able to vote once a day per registered email address until March4, 2013 Victoria Cado, Baxterville teacher who spear-headed Phase Two of the grant submission, asks, "Please go vote daily, because winning this prize is not only a great opportunity for Baxterville School, but for Lamar County, and Mississippi as well. Tell your friends, coworkers, and everyone you know" to Go Vote! at www.baxtervilleschool.org. Voters will be asked to register their email address. Once they have checked their email to verify the registration, they will then be able to cast their vote. "It is a multi-stepped process that is certainly worth the time," adds Johshonda Robertson.