Empowering South African Youth Through STEM

Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Initiative

In the ever-evolving landscape of education and technology, it’s crucial to pave the way for the next generation to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Samsung has taken up this mantle with its “Solve for Tomorrow” initiative. In an exclusive interview with Lenhle Khoza, the BBBEE Manager responsible for transformation and corporate social responsibility at Samsung South Africa, we gained insights into the program’s mission and impact. Additionally, we have the pleasure of announcing the latest winner of the Solve for Tomorrow competition based on Samsung’s press release.

Solve for Tomorrow: Fostering STEM Excellence

Samsung Solve for Tomorrow is a STEM competition designed to engage high school students from underserved communities in South Africa. The competition targets students in grades 10 and 11, exposing them to the wonders of STEM education and its potential to address critical societal issues within their communities.

The journey of the program starts with a widespread outreach effort. Samsung representatives visited 51 schools across all nine provinces in South Africa to introduce Solve for Tomorrow. Subsequently, the competition opens, allowing participating schools to submit their innovative solutions to local challenges.

A panel of judges then evaluates these entries, selecting the top 10 teams in March. What follows is a six-month journey of learning, exploration, and mentorship. Samsung employees volunteer as mentors, guiding the top 10 teams through design thinking workshops. These workshops impart critical thinking skills and encourage students to approach problems with a designer’s mindset.

The Culmination: Presenting Prototypes

The final phase of the competition involves the presentation of prototypes developed by the student teams. A panel of judges assesses these prototypes, ultimately determining the top winners. The stakes are high, with the first-place team receiving 100,000 ZAR worth of STEM equipment for their school, the second-place team getting 50,000 ZAR, and the third-place team securing 30,000 ZAR in STEM equipment. Additionally, the top three teams are rewarded with Samsung devices.

Key Learnings and Impact

Through this journey, the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow initiative has revealed several key learnings. Firstly, it’s crucial not to assume that every school and teacher has access to necessary infrastructure, highlighting the significance of face-to-face interactions during the outreach phase.

The program also discovered the importance of conducting design thinking workshops in smaller groups to ensure that each student benefits fully. Dedicated mentors played a pivotal role in keeping students focused and on track throughout the competition.

One of the most significant takeaways has been the transformation observed in the participating students. They have grown in confidence and skill, showcasing hidden talents that might have otherwise gone unnoticed due to the challenging environments they come from.

A Bright Future for South African Youth

As Lenhle Khoza passionately states, the future looks promising for South Africa. The initiative has demonstrated that talented young innovators can emerge from underserved communities with the right opportunities. The confidence and skills acquired by these students can be life-changing.

Looking ahead, Samsung plans to expand the Solve for Tomorrow competition to include even more schools, aiming to reach a wider audience. South Africans are encouraged to follow Samsung on various media platforms and stay informed about the program’s progress.

The learners who have participated in the Solve for Tomorrow initiative are poised to become ambassadors for STEM education, sharing their experiences and inspiring others to join the movement. As the initiative continues to grow, it promises to unlock the immense potential of South Africa’s youth, ushering in a brighter future for the nation.

Samsung Announces Winner of the Solve for Tomorrow Schools Competition

In a separate announcement, Samsung declared the winner of the Solve for Tomorrow school competition. Mbilwi Secondary School from Venda, Limpopo, emerged victorious at the ceremony held at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

The competition, run in partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), aimed to provide grade 10 and 11 learners from underserved communities with an opportunity to acquire invaluable STEM skills and address challenges within their communities.

Mbilwi Secondary School was awarded R100,000 in cash for their outstanding efforts.

In second place, Maphuthaditshaba Secondary from Acornhoek (Mpumalanga) received R50,000,

and Umlazi Comprehensive Tech from KwaZulu-Natal secured third place with R30,000.

These cash prizes will be used to acquire STEM equipment tailored to each school’s unique needs.

Samsung further sweetened the deal by rewarding each of the learners in the top three teams with a Samsung device.

Innovative Problem Solving and Community Impact

To succeed in the competition, schools had to identify problems in their communities that they could solve using STEM. With Samsung’s support, they received resources and mentorship, allowing them to conduct research and develop prototypes for the challenges they had identified.

The winning prototype, as created by the learners from Mbilwi, is an ambitious plan to fix all the potholes in their town’s roads using recyclable and sustainable materials that include discarded bottles that they collected.

Paving the Way for Excellence

Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow initiative not only aims to nurture STEM proficiency but also positions South Africa to contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It encourages innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork among learners, equipping them with essential skills for their future careers.

Hlubi Shivanda, Samsung’s Director for Business Innovation Group and Corporate Affairs, highlighted the company’s dedication to both technology advancement and socio-economic growth.

“We are proud to see this group of young people applying their minds to learn and help solve some of their communities’ problems. Such programs spark the revolution for positive and sustainable change within communities.”

Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow stands as a testament to the transformative power of education, mentorship, and the boundless potential of South African youth in a rapidly evolving world.

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