By Paul Burton

LAWRENCE (CBS) – Twelve very hard working Lawrence High School freshmen are learning what it means to solve problems. Last year they were all impacted by the Merrimack Valley explosions caused by natural gas leaks and they wanted to do something about it.

“It’s important for us because some of our friends lost their homes and I wanted to help,” student Ronaldo Mejia said.

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They’re part of a group called ENLACE and finalists in the national Samsung “Solve For Tomorrow Contest.”

Gas safety valve created by students in Lawrence (WBZ-TV)

“We decided this was a good opportunity for us to show our capabilities and teach students the causes and help them prepare to deal with these problems in the future,” teacher Shaddai Vargas said.

Each student played a different role. “Then we shared ideas about what we can do to solve the problem,” student Ashely Pichardo said.

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Through a lot of hard work and with the help of a 3D printer they came up with a gas safety valve prototype. “Which mechanically will stop the high pressures of gas,” Vargas said.

Gas safety valve created by students in Lawrence (WBZ-TV)

Each of the students in ENLACE have only been here in America for less than a year, but they saw a problem in their community and wanted to help solve it. “In the future we can use it for other things,” student Maria Santos said.

Principal Allison Balter says her students are really meeting a need in the community. “I can’t put into words how proud I am of the students and Mr. Vargas,” Balter said.

Next month they head to New York to present their prototype. There is an online social media voting component. If you want to support the students you can VOTE HERE.

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If the group finishes in the top three they win $100,000 for the school. The students say they are not in it for the money. “This is something special and I know the people will be grateful to me and my classmates to help them,” Pichardo said

Paul Burton