Three Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) students have reached state finals in the 2023-2024 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) competition.
Seniors Jasmine Garry, Lisa Thayil, and Anjali Marella, mentored by their computer science teacher Jessica Brent, won a $2,500 Samsung technology prize for Brent’s classroom.
In this first phase of the competition, students were invited to submit ideas that use artificial intelligence (AI) to solve real-world problems. Projects are supposed to be sustainable and simple to use.
The EPHS team’s idea was to create a special bird feeder that uses AI to control invasive bird species. “Invasive bird species are a really big issue in the United States,” Garry said. “This seemed like a good engineering and coding solution for this challenge.”
The team’s project will specifically target European Starlings, which are designated as an invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The estimated 150 million starlings in North America cause significant damage and financial losses to the agriculture industry each year, cause urban property damage, and spread disease.
Garry explained that the feeder would be equipped with a camera, and would use AI to recognize when a starling has landed on the feeder. The feeder would then dispense special food to prevent the starling from reproducing.
“It’s a more humane way to curb their population,” Garry said.
The team is now eligible to compete for a chance to increase their prize package to $12,000 and become a state winner. In this next phase of the contest, the EPHS team will be challenged to get one step closer to bringing their project vision to life by creating an activity plan to develop their project.
Garry said the most enjoyable part of the challenge for her is brainstorming as a team how to create a solution, and then bringing it to fruition.
“The process of developing this and hopefully, having our vision come to life, is really exciting,” she said. “I can’t wait to actually start building it.”
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