Ohio is facing a major opioid overdose crisis. And as many Ohio families fight opioid abuse, the impact cascades into the learning environments in Ohio schools. Last fall, Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and the Ohio STEM Learning Network challenged Ohio’s students to design solutions to help end the opioid crisis. Throughout this school year, more than 1,200 students accepted the challenge and developed hundreds of ideas to fight opioid abuse.
“This challenge was an opportunity for students to be creative and join the conversation about one of the biggest problems facing our state — opioid abuse,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “Ohio’s young people never cease to amaze me with their ability to take on tough challenges and develop impressive solutions. I am inspired by the innovative ideas I have seen from our awesome students for addressing the opioid crisis and their desire to create a drug-free future for their fellow students and families.”
On May 18, Battelle hosted the Opioid Student Solutions Showcase, which featured some of the best ideas developed by students. The following schools shared their solutions:
- Akron North High School
- Bio-Med Science Academy
- Dayton Regional STEM School
- Metro Early College High School
- Metro Institute of Technology
- Reynoldsburg High School- eSTEM Academy
- Reynoldsburg High School- (HS)2 Academy
- Ridgeview STEM Jr. High
Student-created solutions included a programmable pill dispenser to limit opioid doses, an app to alert friends and families of those fighting abuse when certain areas are visited and a range of other real-world solutions to this problem. One middle school team designed an anti-drug use social media campaign and spent the semester publishing these messages.
At the event, students heard a range of state leaders including Secretary of State Jon Husted, Attorney General Mike DeWine, and State Superintendent DeMaria.
“Whether it is confronting the opioid epidemic, driverless cars or drone technology, strong skills in STEM are essential to prepare students for the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Secretary Husted said. “The Ohio STEM Learning Network is an invaluable opportunity for STEM students to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom, an experience that will help them and Ohio win a brighter future.”
“I applaud these students for their interest and willingness to take the time to address the drug problem that is devastating our state,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Our state depends on informed, dedicated citizens taking an active role in addressing this crisis, and I’m grateful for these ideas to help those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.”
Dr. Aimee Kennedy
The Ohio STEM Learning Network is a public-private partnership managed by Battelle, which hosted the event. Battelle’s Senior Vice-President of Education and Philanthropy Dr. Aimee Kennedy said: “Solving problems is what we do here at Battelle and I am deeply proud to see that same creativity and energy in the solutions students showed us today.”
The Ohio STEM Learning Network provided online supports for schools participating in the challenge. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education provides rigorous academics in STEM subjects and encourages inquiry-based learning and design thinking in all subjects. The Ohio STEM Learning Network was created in 2008. Today, more than 40 STEM schools and seven regional hubs make up the network. Participation in the design challenge was open to schools within and outside of the network. For schools outside of the network, it was an opportunity for students to have a STEM learning experience.