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Dufur advances in STEAM competition

Dufur High School is among 255 national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which encourages students to tackle real-world issues in their communities using skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Dufur was selected based on teacher Dezirah Remington’s proposal to address the cost of living in the Gorge through individual energy production.

“Hopefully it is [successful] and hopefully it pans out and helps people with some costs,” Remington said.

She had been thinking about incorporating an alternative energy project into her classes for a long time. She did small-scale energy projects, such as using solar panels to bake cookies, with her classes at Sherman County High School before moving to Dufur last February. Those projects had “no connection beyond something to do in class,” Remington said, “so I wanted to find something with a little more ‘umpf’ to it.”

Her proposed project certainly has that ‘umpf.’ Students in Remington’s Alternative Energy, Algebra, Government, Economics and Exploring Computer Science classes will work together to do research on renewable energy in the area, compare large-scale to small-scale geneation and, eventually, make recommendations to the community concerning the potential of small-scale energy as a cost-saving option for area residents.

“I think it’s going to be a good project,” Remington said. “It will take up most of the semester so the kids can get really hands-on and involved.”

She has taken on a heavy load at Dufur, not only teaching math, science and social studies, but also running the high school robotics team and working as the school’s assistant volleyball coach.

“I love to be busy,” Remington told the Chronicle in September, “I prefer small schools for a reason: I like to be challenged.”

As one of Oregon’s five state finalists, Remington will receive a Samsung Chromebook to use in her classroom, which will serve as a much-needed tool for her computer science and robotics students.

Dufur will also move on in the competition and Remington could potentially win prizes worth up to $150,000.

“We like to win at Dufur,” she said. “When that’s on the line, it makes [the kids] get into it more.”

She is surprisingly calm about the stakes.

“One of the best things [for the kids] is when it fails because you’re learning to overcome that,” she said.

Remington, along with the other state finalists, will submit an activity plan today that outlines their project development and chosen issue.

Then, 51 schools will be selected by February to submit a video of their project in action and will win a $25,000 Samsung technology package.

She is excited to introduce the project to her students in January and get them invested in the competition.

“That real world connection tied with a positive way to compete,” said Remington. “—I love it.”

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