Plaza Middle School Wins Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award and $50,000 in Samsung Technology

2014 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Award Given for School’s Oyster Restoration Efforts
Apr 23, 2014 1:30 PM ET

Virginia Beach, Va. April 23, 2014 /3BL Media/ – Samsung and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) announced today that the 2014 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award has been given to students and teachers from Plaza Middle School in Virginia Beach, Va. The team was selected from more than 2,300 submissions across the country, and will receive $50,000 in Samsung technology.

The team was selected for their oyster restoration efforts in the Lynnhaven River, which addressed a local environment and economic issue in their community. Starting last fall, the team started growing 2,100 oysters to contribute to the restoration of the local oyster population in the river. To locate a place to transplant their oysters this coming June, they had to design, build and test remotely operated submersibles (underwater robotic vehicles).

“This project has helped bring science to life for our students because it allowed them to identify a very real issue that impacts our entire region, identify a way to help develop a solution, and then put their plan into action,” said Joe Burnsworth, principal of Plaza Middle. “This is what learning should look like. Opportunities like this are a true measure of content understanding and the ability to transfer that understanding to a unique and important situation.”

Watch their winning submission video:

“Plaza Middle School’s project is an excellent example of how the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow program offers the opportunity to make what can often seem irrelevant classroom lessons come alive for students,” said David Steel, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics North America. “Through community-based learning, students see firsthand how science and math can be applied to create real change in their community, an indelible experience that we hope will empower them in their future endeavors.”

Announced today, as part of National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the award recognizes the students’ and teachers’ use of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to solve an environmental challenge in their own backyard. All schools who applied for the 2014 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest were eligible for the Environmental Sustainability Innovation Award. After finalists were narrowed down, a team of judges from the National Environmental Education Foundation selected the winning submission.

“The submissions for this year’s award were inspiring. The way today’s students are using their problem-solving skills to find solutions to local environmental challenges should give us all hope for a better tomorrow,” said Diane Wood, president of NEEF.

To learn more about all the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow awards winners, visit


About the National Environmental Education Foundation
NEEF is the nation’s leading organization in lifelong environmental learning, connecting people to knowledge they use to improve the quality of their lives and the health of the planet. To accomplish this, NEEF provides knowledge to trusted professionals and other leaders who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve every day environmental problems. NEEF sees a future where by 2022, 300 million Americans actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people. Learn more at, follow NEEF on and Twitter @neefusa.

EE Week is the nation's largest celebration of environmental education. This year’s theme, Engineering a Sustainable World, is part of EE Week’s multi-year focus on Greening STEM. Since its inception in 2005, EE Week has delivered free, non-biased, high-quality, environmental materials grounded in accurate, timely scientific information and tied to local, state and national learning standards.

About Samsung Electronics North America
Samsung Electronics North America (NAHQ), based in Ridgefield Park, NJ, is an arm of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. The company markets a broad range of award-winning consumer electronics, information systems, and home appliance products, as well as oversees all of Samsung’s North American brand management including Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC and Samsung Electronics Canada, Inc. As a result of its commitment to innovation and unique design, Samsung is one of the most decorated brands in the electronics industry. For more information, please visit You can also Fan Samsung on or follow Samsung via Twitter @SamsungTweets.

About Virginia Beach City Public Schools
Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) is the  largest school division in the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia and continues to be one of the best school divisions in the country according to GreatSchools, which ranked VBCPS as the fifth best large school division in the nation. The division’s strategic plan, Compass to 2015, sets a primary focus on teaching and assessing those skills students need to thrive as 21st century learners, workers, and citizens.

Amber Taylor
National Environmental Education Foundation

Theresa Cha
Samsung Electronics North America

Jennifer A. McCarrel
Virginia Beach City Public Schools