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Well-deserved recognition for the STEM school project | Jersey Journal Editorial

Congratulations and good luck to a group of STEM students from Christa McAuliffe School 28 in Jersey City as they progress through a national “Solve for Tomorrow” competition.

Led by teacher Joel Naatus, eighth graders developed a rainwater harvesting system to keep school plants from withering. But it’s a system they hope to one day help people with, say, basement flooding issues know when rain is going to overwhelm their pipes.

The development of such observational, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills deserves praise.

Naatus is no stranger to accolades, having been named Jersey City’s Teacher of the Year in 2014 and watching his students win the Lexus Eco Challenge two years in a row.

What we find particularly remarkable about each of School 28’s award-winning projects is their germination from issues that students see in their Heights neighborhood.

The current students and project have already won a finalist prize of $6,500 from Samsung and are up for one of three grand prizes of $100,000 in technology and supplies.

The students noted for Jersey Journal reporter Joshua Rosario last week that they had not let the pandemic get in the way of their work.

The results of this competition are expected next month. Whatever the outcome, the students of School 28 are, of course, already winners. And they plan to keep working.

“We have been thinking for a long time about what we are going to do for this competition,” 14-year-old Ali Ibrahim told Rosario. “The longer we took, the more ideas came – as if we were always planning to create new things rather than the only system we have right now.”

This is the kind of spirit that teachers, schools and communities can and should be very proud of.

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