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Lakeside High School was recently named among six schools in Arkansas receiving national recognition for "inspiring change in their local communities through STEM education," according to a news release.

The school is a finalist in the 10th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a nationwide competition that "challenges students in grades 6-12 to creatively use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address real-world issues in their communities," the release said.

It was the partnership between senior EAST students, Jaylin Stone, Benjamin Forbes and Mallorie Gray, and Levi Hospital that led to the award-winning project.

"This is a group effort, for sure," EAST facilitator John Stokes said.

The three students have been creating a program that allows patients to use Oculus virtual reality technology and equipment to enhance the rehabilitation process for patients.

"We use the Oculus headgear, which puts them into a virtual reality situation to recreate the process of the rehabilitation facility," Stokes said.

The program allows for patients to use it at home or other locations, and lets others, including health care professionals, view the process of rehabilitation from the perspective of the patients, he said.

"As far as I know, this is the first time this has been attempted in the state of Arkansas," Stokes said.

Stokes said the idea for the project came from the need to utilize a $5,000 grant from the EAST Initiative in conjunction with its Beyond the Bell program. Based on his students' interests, Stokes and the trio collaborated to come up with the idea of utilizing virtual reality in a unique way.

"That's what EAST is all about," he said.

During one of the student's visits to the hospital, rehabilitation staff tried on the headset and tested the program for themselves.

"They were immediately able to see the value of it at Levi," Stokes said. "It takes that clinical feeling away."

Stone, Forbes and Gray have all been working on the project since the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Stokes said that judging by the project's timeline and progress made, the project should be completed sometime in December and culminate with a patient being enrolled in the program.

Lakeside utilizes Smart Start Wednesdays to allow professional development time for teachers. On those days, students arrive at school later in the day and Stokes said Stone, Forbes and Gray use that time to meet with Levi staff and further develop the project.

"They're very driven and very task-oriented. They're really focused on wanting to make sure that this community partnership is taken care of," Stokes said.

"They've really internalized it and they really want to see this through."

Stokes expressed gratitude toward the Lakeside administration.

"We're really supported here by the administration. Mr. Landry and Mr. Campbell have been really instrumental with getting this off the ground," he said.

Other schools named to the list of Arkansas state finalists include Beebe Junior High School in Beebe, Central High School in Little Rock and George Junior High School, Sonora Middle School and the Don Tyson School of Innovation, all in Springdale.

The Arkansas state finalist classrooms were chosen "based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning," the release said.

Lakeside is among 300 other state finalists in the nation.

Each of the 300 teachers that submitted finalist proposals will receive a Samsung tablet for classroom use, and will also have the opportunity to advance in the competition with their students for additional prizes, the release said.

Stokes said all the necessary paperwork to compete at the next level has already been submitted, and he expects the state winner to be announced sometime in early December.

Following that announcement, 100 state winner schools will advance in the contest and receive $15,000 each in technology and supplies, as well as a video kit.

Twenty national finalist schools will be selected to travel to the final event to be held in the spring, where they will present their project to a panel of judges. For achieving national finalist status, schools will be awarded $50,000 in technology and classroom materials.

Five grand prize national winner schools will be selected to receive $100,000 in technology and classroom materials, as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., to present their projects to members of Congress.

Public voting will also determine one Community Choice winner from the pool of national finalists, who will be eligible to win an additional $10,000 in technology and classroom supplies.

"I think they will take all this in stride," Stokes said of his students. "They are very committed to this."

Local on 11/18/2019

Print Headline: Lakeside students named state finalists

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