UMO Alumna Hopes to Strike it Big for Her East Duplin Science Class

UMO Alumna Hopes to Strike it Big for Her East Duplin Science Class

MOUNT OLIVE- University of Mount Olive (UMO) alumna Jackie Smith has just returned from a two day trip to New York City, where she visited the Samsung headquarters as one of 15 national winners in the 2015-2016 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. Smith, a science teacher at East Duplin High School in Beulaville, NC, originally competed against over 4,000 teachers in North Carolina before being named a national finalist. As a state winner Smith has already won $40,000 in technology for her school.

The premise of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest is to excite students about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. While in the Big Apple, Smith presented a three minute video explaining her class’s project to a panel of judges for a chance at a share of over $2 million in technology products.

Smith’s class listened intently as she shared with them her experiences at the Samsung headquarters in New York.  She talked about the marble floors, the ceiling-to-floor technology capabilities, and new products being developed by Samsung such as smart refrigerators and more.  Her eyes were bright and her hand gestures animated as she detailed the once-in-a-lifetime experience with her students.  But, that is nothing new.  Smith has a way of connecting with her students. In fact that is what led her to enter the Samsung competition in the first place.  She was surfing the internet looking for economical ways to do science experiences, when she ran across the competition.

“Money is tight she explained, so I am always looking for innovative and inexpensive ways to bring science to life,” she shared.

Smith’s project topic deals with invasive species, like duckweed and pondweed, and how to prevent them from spreading.  Smith took her class to local Cabin Lake, where they began doing field research and developing plans for a prototype.  Through the project, Smith’s students were able to identify a real world problem and propose a solution using STEM skills.  Together, they constructed an inexpensive, but effective boat washing station that removes invasive species from watercraft.  The washing station has been installed and is being actively used at Cabin Lake.

“When students become excited about any project and become problem solvers as a team, then I know the project is successful,” Jackie said.

Smith and her classes are anxiously waiting for April 1st, that is when she will find out if their class project proposal is worthy of the grand prize money.  In the meantime, she hopes everyone will help support their effort by going online and voting.

To vote for Smith and East Duplin High School for the national Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, please visit and watch their “2016 Solve for Tomorrow” video. All voting can be conducted on social media by using hashtags that are specific to each participating school. Each vote must also include the hashtag #SamsungSolve EDHS. Each voter may only vote one time per day.

Smith graduated from UMO in 2012 with a degree in secondary science education.

“My experience at UMO was challenging at times balancing school and a family,” Smith said.  “However, having supportive professors and staff made it enjoyable experience to reach my goal to become an educator.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit