Garden City teacher representing Kansas in STEM contest

Drubinskiy could win up to $150,000 for his school

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A Garden City teacher has won a big prize for his school in a national STEM contest for showing how technology can help Kansas save water.

“It’s not about the technology,” said Garden City High School teacher Yuriy Drubinskiy, “it’s about what’s possible with it.”

Drubinskiy is representing Kansas at a national competition, showing off how technology can address a local issue.

“The one I chose to write about is how can we make more efficient use of the water that we have, so what I’m going to have my students do is to study the Ogallala Aquifer.”

He was inspired to focus on the dwindling aquifer after reading about it in National Geographic last year.

He says we can all make small changes in our water use to ease the strain on the aquifer.

“How can we educate the public about making more efficient water decisions,” he said, “and we’re going to do that using technology such as censors and microcontrollers.”

He and his class are developing kits for the community to better track how much water their lawns need and avoid over-watering.

“That would be able to measure soil moisture, light, all that kind of thing and be able to adjust based on growing needs.”

By winning state-wide, he’ll receive at least $25,000 in Samsung technology for his classroom and wants to upgrade the software and hardware his students use, but he could win as much as $150,000 if he does well nationally.

“Whether it’s getting a couple of advanced touch boards in classrooms, just something that we can bring into some elementary schools, middle schools, the high school.”

He says that while his project focuses on residential use, the same technology could help farmers keep track of the needs of their crops and regulate how much water they use.

Drubinskiy is competing against one teacher from each state and the District of Columbia.

If he is one of three national winners, on top of the $150,000 in technology, $20,000 will go to a nonprofit of his choice. He chose the Finnup Foundation, which provides grants to organizations that benefit southwest Kansas.