Butler Tech / Ross High School Students Present Sustainability Solutions at United Nations Headquarters

Isabella Saylor and Michael Rivera speak at the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2018.

Isabella Saylor and Michael Rivera speak at the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2018. Photo Credit: Samsung Electronics America

A team of Butler Tech Information Technology students from Ross High School recently traveled to New York City to present on sustainable development issues at the United Nations headquarters. Butler Tech was one of just four U.S. public schools who partnered with international counterparts from Brazil, China, Korea and Tunisia in the Samsung Global Classroom STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Challenge. The challenge encourages public school students to become involved in solving local issues and develop leadership skills as global citizens.

VIDEO: Michael Rivera and Isabella Saylor from Butler Tech / Ross High School presenting at United Nations: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/watch/public-private-partnership-steam-for-global-citizenship-to-achieve-the-sdgs/5726873764001/?term=#t=37m35s

“Speaking at the United Nations made me feel as if I could do anything,” said student Michael Rivera. “This incredible honor has opened my eyes as to what I can accomplish individually and what we can do for society. It showed me that, although we are thousands of miles apart, we aren’t that different.”

The Butler Tech students worked with peers from the Science Academy of KAIST in Busan, Korea, in a virtual classroom environment developed by IVECA. They had 10 weeks to collaboratively develop solutions using STEAM skills to address issues that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). Their solutions were presented to a panel of government leaders, non-governmental organizations, educators, and corporate leaders at the UN on February 5.

Butler Tech Information Technology at Ross High School video conferences with their Korean counterparts.

Butler Tech Information Technology at Ross High School video conferences with their Korean counterparts.

The Butler Tech team addressed the “No Poverty” and “Zero Hunger” SDGs with a proposal to extend the useful life of food and create employment opportunities. Their five-year business plan calls for creating partnerships with grocers and restaurants to preserve fresh foods approaching their sell-by dates so they could be stored or delivered to those in need. Other food wastes would be repurposed as fuel or compost material. Using a non-profit model, their business would also create jobs and provide educational training focused on breaking cycles of poverty.

“It was the first time I met the students from South Korea, and we became friends right away,” said student Isabella Saylor. “No matter what country you live in, we all face similar problems and have similar concerns. Collaboration and innovation as one team instead of individual people is the best way to solve these problems. I now see myself as a global citizen able to solve problems while seeing through a world-wide lens.”

“Having witnessed the power and learning opportunities of this global challenge, I will be changing the focus of my daily teaching from Information Technology and Entrepreneurship to Global Information Technology, Global Entrepreneurship, and Global Citizenship with attention to UN SDGs,” said Thomas O’Neill, Butler Tech Information Technology instructor at Ross High School.

“We wanted to give these students from around the world the opportunity to interact with their peers on issues that transcend their local communities,” said Ann Woo, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Samsung Electronics America. “The goal was to really challenge these students with the how – how can they be innovative in their thinking and use STEAM skills to overcome sustainable development challenges in their communities.”

Each of the schools participating will receive a participation certificate from IVECA, as well as a Global Classroom STEAM Challenge award from Samsung.

“If I had to describe the experience in two words, they would be fulfilling and rewarding,” said student Michael Saylor. “To finally meet the people you have been communicating with for weeks, to finally hear their stories and solutions in person, was an amazing experience. It was so rewarding to meet more young individuals like ourselves committed to becoming global citizens and to change the world for the better.”