May 17, 2017
Lincoln, Neb. — A team of students from Gering High School was named one of three national winners in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest in April. Gering received a $150,000 grant and $20,000 for a local nonprofit of their choice, which was the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.
The contest challenged sixth- through 12th-graders to use science, technology, engineering, arts and math to address real-world problems in their communities. With a growing concern for a safe water and food supply, an electronics class at Gering High School and their teacher, Justin Reinmuth, designed and built a drone-powered spraying system to target weeds and eliminate the need to blanket spray large fields.
"The project entails two drones," Reinmuth said. "The first drone is a scout drone, which takes aerial photos of a given field to evaluate the crop health and presence of unwanted vegetation. The second drone is the applicator drone, which is implemented to spray only the foreign vegetation instead of blanket spraying the entire field, thus reducing the amount of chemicals being overused in our community."
According to Reinmuth, the Panhandle Research and Extension Center was a great partner during the project. Gering had access to the center's land to fly the drones, and Extension Educator Aaron Berger invited the team to a producer meeting in Banner County. The meeting featured a discussion and demonstration of drones in agriculture.
"We’re proud that the youth from western Nebraska recognized the significance of agriculture to our future and used this project to put a spotlight on this issue," said Extension Educator Gary Stone, who facilitated the center's involvement with the project
Over 5,300 teams from across the country entered the contest. Gering started the project last October and soon learned it was one of five finalists from Nebraska. The team won first place in the state and was named a top 10 finalist in the country. Those 10 teams were invited to Washington, D.C., in April to a special awards ceremony, where the three winners were announced. While there, the team also met with and presented their project to Congressman Adrian Smith.
The students will speak about their project and demonstrate their drone at a May 18 seminar at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. The seminar will begin at 2 p.m. in the auditorium and is free and open to the public.
The Panhandle Research and Extension Center serves the needs of western Nebraska. Specialists directly share new knowledge with the public about crops, livestock, weeds, water, insects, disease and community vitality. For more information about the center, visit http://panhandle.unl.edu.Gary Stone