Why these local students were presenting at the United Nations headquarters recently

A team of Butler Tech Information Technology students from Ross High School 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.

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“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.

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.

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.”

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