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Team of Oswego East HS Students Named as Samsung National Finalists

Backpack with Sensors


Congratulations to freshmen students Jensen Coonradt, Ethan Ashcraft and Gavin Rommen from Oswego East High School for having been named one of 10 National Finalists in the 11th annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition! They need the community’s help to also win the Community Choice award!


The OE team was 1 out of 75 school teams in the United States to be selected as a semi-finalist in this year's competition and the only school from the state of Illinois. For having reached the semi-finalist level, the team received a $15,000 Samsung technology and classroom resource prize package for Oswego East and now as a national finalist they’ve been awarded a $65,000 Samsung prize package and are invited to present their project virtually to live judges.

This nationwide education competition challenges students in grades 6-12 to use STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to address local issues and inspire change in their communities. The Oswego East team spent endless hours designing, prototyping, testing and perfecting their project, the Viz Whiz. The Viz Whiz assists individuals who are blind or have visual impairments in navigating their environment. This one-of-a-kind, inexpensive, smart backpack design uses the principles of neuroplasticity to help the visually impaired to fluidly sense their surroundings. Through the use of six ultrasonic sensors to detect distance, as well as six servos mounted on the backpack to press into the user’s back at varying intensities, the Viz Whiz allows individuals to gather information about their surroundings without making contact with objects around them.

To view the student-created video about their project click here.

Voting is open online now to help the Oswego East team win one of two Community Choice awards, receiving an additional $15,000 for their school. To participate and vote, simply view the Oswego East video on the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow website and cast your vote. Voting is permitted once a day until Monday, May 3.

“The amazing work that Jensen, Ethan and Gavin have completed is sure to bring them a great deal of success, while also paving the way in developing an innovative, real-world solution for community members in need,” said Gina Korczak, team sponsor and OEHS teacher. “The team's hard work, ambition and creativity throughout this competition have been truly remarkable and should be celebrated as they await the National evaluation results from the Samsung judges,” said Korczak.

For more information regarding the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow program, please visit:

The team was on FOX 32 on April 21st. See the broadcast here: