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Sheffield High School students will go on to the finals in the Samsung STEM national competition after they won at the state level.
Students won the state round of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest. They've already secured about $20,000 in prizes but that number could jump to $50,000 if they place in the top 10 nationwide.
"When I opened that first email and we were told we were the state winner. I just didn't know how to react," said Sheffield teacher, Jamie Smith.
Smith's engineering class at Sheffield came up with a project to take on the Zebra Mussel in the Tennessee River.
"They are a really big nuisance here and in the Great Lakes," said Student Zane Turner.
Students did their research finding that the Zebra Mussels deplete food for fish and other species but they cause other problems especially for TVA.
"They surround everything completely," said Turner.
The students took this problem in the river and made grates to collect data on the mussels. Since their project won, the next step is putting it into action to solve the Zebra Mussel issue.
"Right now we've got the samplers in the water trying to see how bad they are," said student, Austin Walker.
Smith's class met with a TVA representative on Wednesday to discuss their plans to try and stop the mussel from spreading.
"We're trying to figure out what materials they don't like to be on and other ways we can prevent them from spreading and getting on the pipes at the dam," said Walker.
The next step students will be submitting a three minute video to show how they developed their project and put it into action, for the national competition. That part is due next month.
They should know sometime in March if they have made it into the top ten.