Mar 3, 2015

Meeteetse students’ trout-saving plan earns $35,000 prize, chance for more

MEETEETSE — The lesson was conservation with a technology prize.

For their project designed to save native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Meeteetse Schools youth and their teacher, Michael Power, earned a big technology payday for their school through a Samsung contest.

More might be had with enough votes.

Their project was designing a fish screen to prevent cutthroats from entering an irrigation canal off Pickett Creek on the Pitchfork Ranch west of Meeteetse.

Students from Michael Power’s 10th-grade class take measurements and sketches of an irrigation canal diversion dam to create their own model, intended to keep Yellowstone cutthroat trout out of a canal. From left are Logan Raper, Jenna Williams, Jamey Olson and Tommy Thompson of Trout Unlimited. Courtesy photo

Meeteetse Schools is one of 15 national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. They were selected from more than 3,100 applicants nationwide. The contest is designed to encourage teachers and students to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

“As a national finalist and Wyoming state winner, Meeteetse Schools will receive $35,000 in technology,” according to Allison+Partners, a firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. handling the public relations for Samsung.

On March 18, Power, a seventh- and 10th-grade teacher at Meeteetse Schools, will present his students project in New York City to a live panel of judges who will select three grand prize winners.

A fourth winner will be chosen by Samsung employees and a fifth, the Community Choice Award winner, will be determined by public online voting.

The five grand prize winners will receive an estimated $120,000 in technology, according to Allison.
With competitors from many big city schools, every vote Meeteetse gets is crucial. He’s telling people via Twitter.

“We’re kind of the David versus Goliath so we have to get the word out,” Power said.

Jenna Williams, Logan Raper, Ian Johnson, Colton Curtis, Jamey Olson and Brent Riley were the 10th-grade biology students who designed the project. Also involved were sophomore Colton Curtis and senior Caitlynn Hiser, thanks to a mentoring relationship they had with Tommy Thompson of Trout Unlimited, Power said.

Every season, cutthroats enter the canal. Unable to escape, the trout eventually die.

The screen is designed to allow water to flow into the irrigation system while keeping fish out. An automated solar-powered brush would remove debris from the screen, Power said.

His kids learned that science can be applied to solve real-life problems. “It’s just opened their eyes,”  he said.

The project has inspired student career interest in science, design, technology and engineering.

“The real world piece is so important to their education,” Power said.

Meeteetse Schools 10th graders, from left, Jenna Williams, Logan Raper, Ian Johnson, Colton Curtis, Jamey Olson and Brent Riley, designed a fish screen to protect Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Courtesy photo

The Pitchfork Ranch allowed his students access to the ranch where the screen would be built. Thompson lent his knowledge of trout diversion projects and Jason Burckhardt, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department fish biologist, taught them Yellowstone cutthroat biology, Power said.

Screen installation is slated for 2016.

“It’s a go so far,” Power said.

He’s proud of his students for their hard work.

“The product they put out was awesome,” Power said.


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