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These 10 smart innovations were designed by students to change the world

The finalists in this year’s Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest have developed new ideas for everything from stopping mosquitoes to preventing school shootings.

These 10 smart innovations were designed by students to change the world

One major problem with traditional mosquito traps is that they’re baited with water and larvicide. If not emptied regularly, they eventually become a breeding ground for more mosquitoes. So after noticing an uptick in potentially incurable disease spreading Tiger Mosquitoes at their school in Hacienda Heights, California, a team of students at Los Altos High School decided to design a new version.

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It’s a funnel-shaped device that can be 3D-printed using biodegradable material that features a time-release plug, which dissolves to automatically empty the contents. To ensure the traps get reloaded, there’s also an app called Mosquito Trapper, which lets users mark trap locations and points for regularly checking and maintaining them.

That’s just one of several ingenuous projects to come out of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, which just announced the top 10 finalists in the competition. Samsung Solve is an annual event that’s open to any middle or high school team of students. The goal is to identify a pressing challenge in your own community, then use science, technology, engineering, and math skills to help solve it.

Now in its ninth year, the contest drew 2,000 entries from around the country. The finalists were chosen from a pool of the top entries per state, and have created their own videos about their builds, all of which are summarized in the video below.

Each finalist will receive $50,000 in Samsung technology of their classroom, and a chance to pitch their concept for three prizes of $100,000 worth of tech at a live pitch event in New York in April. As part of the competition, each finalist had to submit their own three-minute video about what inspired their idea, and how it works.

Los Altos High School, California. An affordable and environmentally friendly self-emptying mosquito trap, along with an app to trace eradications.

Goddard High School, Kansas. A small, one-touch transmitter for foster care kids to report abuse via a distress message and their GPS coordinates on a Google Map.

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Lawrence High School, Massachusetts. A 3D-printed device to relieve high pressure on old natural gas lines to prevent explosions. It was designed specifically by kids in the school’s ENLACE program for newcomers learning English.

Owensville High School, Missouri. A specialized interior steel door lock intended to secure classrooms and withstand gunfire from school shooters.

Northern Cass Middle School, North Dakota. An Emergency Video Assistance app that connects callers, dispatchers, and response crews with real-time video footage (and tutorials for things like CPR). It may be especially useful in rural areas where response times are delayed.

Fairfield High School, Ohio. A remote, app-controlled, and solar-powered windshield defroster that saves gas and carbon emissions in especially cold areas.

Deep Creek Middle School, Virginia. A chartable app featuring free eye exams and prescription eyeglasses for students in need, saving families lots of time and money.

Concord High School, Delaware. A series of physical, hands-on interactive tools to help kids with special needs learn more about numbers and the alphabet while refining their motor skills (like large wooden stencils, for instance, which can be placed over a dry-erase board).

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Holly Grove Middle School, North Carolina. A flashing school bus stop sign, which syncs to an onboard app and can be triggered as the carrier approaches its destination. It’s solar powered, and changes colors as the bus gets closer.

Richland Two Institute of Innovation, South Carolina. Aesthetically pleasing electromagnetic door locks and protective window curtains that that can be triggered to deploy in case of a school shooting.

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About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.

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