Jackson Heights High School students qualify for national STEM competition

Education 21st Century

HOLTON, Kan. (KSNT) — Mr. Keehn teaches wildlife management at Jackson Heights High School in Holton.

One of his students Paige Denault said he’s all about getting his students outside of the class room and up close with nature.

“We don’t just look at textbooks the entire class. we get to go out and actually look at animal tracks and the trees,” Denault said.

Now Jackson Heights is one of 75 semi-finalists in the “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow” national competition.

They got $15,000 to bring to life their project idea to impact change in their community using STEM.

They chose to focus on water quality issues they’ve seen Holton; specifically – runoff water from parking lots that has increased in temperature.

“We’re going to try to find a way to maybe contain that water, take it up under the parking lot, and then deliver it into the stream. but filter it so it benefits the environment,” Denault said.

Benefits like for fishing enthusiasts like classmate Josh White who explains the impact warm run off water can have on fish.

“It’ll cause a major drop in the fish population and there’s a lot of people out there that love fishing, including me, I love to go fishing,” White said. “So if that drops in fishing and Kansas has to regulate that, it’s going to be way harder to go fishing,” White said.

Over the next month and a half, Mr. Keehn and his students will get to work creating a small-scale model in the high school parking lot to trap some of the water runoff.

“This water will be going underneath parking lots. Possibly repeating the best we can man made a spring system and that way the water will be trapped there, cooling, slowing the flow rate down and that it somehow will be filtered before it gets down into a stream,” Mr. Keehn said.

He hopes their project will inspire others to research similar things in their area.

Mr. Keehn and his students will submit their final project to judges via video in mid-march.

If they’re selected as finalists, they’ll move on to the next round with 10 other schools where they’ll get $65,000 worth of Samsung equipment for the school.

To learn more about the wildlife management program at Jackson Heights, contact gary.keehn@jhcobras.net.

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