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March 1, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Tiny Neah Bay school a finalist in national science competition

A group of Native American students from tiny Neah Bay, on the Olympic Peninsula, are finalists for a national $100,000 technology and software prize.

The “Solve for Tomorrow” competition, sponsored by Samsung, aims to honor students who best show how science or math is helping the environment in their community.

The Neah Bay middle and high school students submitted a short documentary on the Makah Tribe’s use of mushrooms to clean diesel fuel-contaminated sand on Tatoosh Island, according to an announcement released by Washington STEM, a nonprofit science education organization that is working with the students.

More than 1,500 teachers and students participated in the contest, and 12 finalists were selected. Neah Bay was the only Washington school and one of two schools on the West Coast to earn that distinction.

The honor is unusual given the small size of Neah Bay and its historical struggles — in 2005, just 4.3 percent of 10th graders at the high school passed the state math test and none passed the state science test. But the school has turned around with the help of its focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Whether or not Neah Bay wins the competition depends in part of an online vote. You can vote once per day here.

The voting closes March 12.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: Makah Tribe, national competition, Neah Bay

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