Group of students in Granada Hills are national finalists in Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest

A group of students at Granada Hills Charter High School won $50,000 for using STEM skills to solve problems in the community.
GRANADA HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A group of students at Granada Hills Charter High School were one of 10 national finalists to win $50,000 in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. The contest challenges students to use science, technology, engineering and math skills to solve local issues in the community.

"These students have done such an incredible job of taking the concepts and skills they're learning in their science classes and applying real-world problems," said science team coach Dustin Rael.

The students chose to focus on solving a problem many people in California deal with too often, wildfires. They said they challenged themselves to find out how wildfires are harmful to the environment.

"When looking into wildfires, we found out that the fire retardant often runs off into bodies of water and causes algal blooms, which can be lethal to fish. And so we wanted to find a way to filter it from natural bodies of water," said 11th grade student Brinda Garg.

"So what our product is, is an environmental cleaning product. It's a filtration system that we're going to be placing in lakes and streams," said 11th grade student Solomon Puthiakunnel.

The mesh bags are filled with nanoparticles that will filter out harmful chemicals, such as fire retardant that can be found in large bodies of water.

"The potential for this to become an actual product is real. I think to come up with an actual plan to scale it into something real is totally feasible," said Rael.

In just a few weeks, the students will be traveling to New York to pitch their project to a panel of judges and have a chance to be named national finalists. If they win, they will receive an additional $50,000.

"All of the prize money is going to go towards paying it forward to future groups of science team students. So that when they have an idea, they've got the tools to help them in that vision," said Rael.

The community also has an opportunity to vote for Granada Hills Charter High School to win an additional $10,000. Anyone interesting in voting can go to samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow.

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