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The all-female Berlin InvenTeam was selected as a semi-finalist in the 11th annual “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest.” The team will receive a prize of $15,000 to be redeemed through Samsung. 

Berlin’s InvenTeam is advised by BMHS Technology teacher Ms. Dawn Wetmore. Team members: seniors Hope Pelletier and Hailey Beckwith, Team Leads and Electrical Technicians; senior Jordanne Brazie, Software Developer; sophomores Samantha Rokjer and Riley Smith, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Developers; freshmen Josephine Cummings and Ashlee Evans, Mechanical Technicians.

The Samsung nationwide education competition is a challenge to students in grades 6 through 12 to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to address a community challenge. The Samsung Group is a South Korean-based multinational electronics and engineering firm. 

Samsung set out this challenge to foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills while helping students find an opportunity to solve a current issue in their local community. 

The Berlin InvenTeam submitted a proposal to Samsung outlining a plan to take on the eradication of invasive plant species in local waterways. This issue was brought to the team’s attention when the members discussed kayaking over the summer. 

They recalled how the invasive water chestnut plant was impacting the Dunham Reservoir in Grafton State Park. Upon researching the plant species, team members said, a “eureka moment” occurred for a robotic device that would eradicate the plants from the water.

The InvenTeam’s invention, named the Achelous ROV, is designed to help clear clogged waterways. The team members believed their invention would improve the ecosystem and promote the recreational use of creeks, rivers and lakes in Rensselaer County, part of the Hudson River watershed. 

In their presentation the team points out that invasive plant species, when left unchecked, prevent sunlight from reaching vital plant food sources for fish and adversely affect the ecosystem of the watershed.  

Over the winter the students fabricated a prototype of a semi-autonomous robot to remove water chestnuts. They worked through all phases of the engineering design process: identifying the problem, researching it, designing a solution, building and coding a prototype and finally testing the prototype in the New Lebanon swimming pool. 

At the conclusion of the engineering and design process the students and Ms. Wetmore created a three-minute video demonstration to submit for the finalist round of the competition. The team was one of 75 semifinalists nationwide to submit videos for the next round where 10 finalists are chosen.

Seniors Hope Pelletier and Hailey Beckwith saw their leadership roles on this year’s InvenTeam as an exciting opportunity.

“I’ve always had an interest in technology, and I wanted to help younger kids who also have an interest in this field,” said Hailey. “I am not planning to go into this field, but I will most definitely be using what I learned here in my life after high school.”

Hope Pelletier does not plan to explore this field after high school either but feels this class will have a lasting impact as well: “I do enjoy learning anything that involves technology, engineering and design and I believe it’s very useful to keep at the back of your mind.”

Ms. Wetmore continues to strive for improvement in her technology and engineering classes, challenging the students by entering national competitions like Samsung’s. She says these competitions show what opportunities are out there for students, both in the classroom and beyond. 

Hope reflected on the past four years of these classes: “Ms. Wetmore has helped me enjoy learning about new ideas and information when it comes to technology, building, designing and electrical components. 

Hailey shared that sentiment, “Ms. Wetmore helped me understand technology and how to use it. She has always been very helpful when I didn’t understand something.”

Though the Berlin InvenTeam did not make it as finalist this year they have accomplished so much in spite of the limited meeting times and hybrid schedule.

The InvenTeam and Ms. Wetmore will shortly update the community on how they plan to invest their prize money back into the program.