Congratulations to the 20142015 Land & Water and Air & Climate winners!
Here are the winners of the Air & Climate Challenge!
Frack Pack, New York
Team: Michelle, Adam, Maisha, Jonayed, Chad
Hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—involves drilling and injecting fluid into the ground to procure natural gas. The New York State Department of Health recently reported that public health effects from it are “significantly broader than” just where it’s taking place, “thus expanding the potential risk to a large population of New Yorkers.” Via school events and their own DVD, Frack Pack and Teacher Advisor Maribel Pregnall surveyed and informed their student body about fracking, distributing hundreds of brochures about the problematic practice.
Make It Greener, Missouri
Team:Abby, Aditya, Aerin, Andy, Maxim, Yan
Did you know that there are likely very harmful chemicals in the cleaning products in your kitchen cabinets? Teacher advisor Russ Barton and his Make It Greener team know all about it, and their local solution was twofold: build and implement a vermicomposting system and conduct research on household chemical alternatives. They built (from scratch) and distributed 11 composters to a bunch of schools in their district!
The Palmetto Planeteers, Florida
Team: Will, Emma, Meryl, Ashlynn, Mark
Teacher advisor Pamela Shlachtman and the Palmetto Planeteers took aim at our reliance on fossil fuels, specifically on ways to reduce their school’s use of electricity for charging its golf carts. The team researched photovoltaic cells—solar panels that work to convert the sun’s energy into electricity—and set up a solar charging station to cut down the school’s energy consumption by approximately 7kWh per day!
The Fantastic Five, Kentucky
Team: Rachel, Morgan, Joyia, Isabella, Katie
Cigarette smoke is loaded with toxins, and the Fantastic Five and teacher advisor Catherina Sammons took a close look at how it affects their community. The team generated an antismoking campaign at school that yielded a popular “nonsmoking” pledge and marketed their message with posters and presentations at local middle schools!
Team: Yanxi, Maya, Anneli, Molly, Hannah, Edwood, Lakeisha, James, Harry
Teacher advisor Cate Arnold and her Energy Misers call themselves “advocates for the global commons”—an apt descriptor for their multitiered global warming project. They held an assembly on climate change (more than 450 students attended), put together a “sustainable energy education drive,” and distributed home energy audits and evaluations to encourage energy efficiency in the community.
First Class Biogas, Pennsylvania
Team: Quintin, Justin, John, Zion, Uma, Abbey, Rachel, Corrine, Elena
Reuse, recycle, and reduce—behold, the three Rs that guided a project from First Class Biogas and teacher advisors Sid Harwood and Shannon Helzer. They constructed a “biogas digester system” to reuse organic waste (lunchroom food scraps, cow manure from a local farm), are reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process, and worked to tell their school (and greater district) all about it!
Team: Hannah, Margaret, Lagen, Emily, Caroline, Anna, Betsy, Amy, Alexandra, Sydney
Viztopia focused on working to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Led by teacher advisor Monica Merkley, the team calculated the waste of energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with a typical spring break outing and opted for a spare “learning trip” to a nearby campground. They also sent letters to hotels, advising them to think green and actively generated public awareness of junk mail’s contributions to greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere!
The Green MOFs, New York
Team: Cameron, Richie, Kevin, Steve, Grace, Ivy
The Green MOFs worked studiously on developing adsorbents—metal organic frameworks (MOFs)—to capture and trap the carbon dioxide molecules that contribute to dangerously high levels of greenhouse gas CO2 in our atmosphere. Through partnerships with local groups, a mass awareness campaign and communication with local and state governing bodies, teacher advisor Serena McCalla and her team got the word out about how human activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and are working on getting a new water filtration system and a wind turbine for their school!
3D Scienteers, Texas
Team: Jackson, Sam, Rishab, Arjun, Jaden
True to its name, 3D Scienteers and teacher advisor Taylor Davis reduced the size of our collective global footprint by implementing a 3D marketplace, in which the act of 3D printing products makes for a more sustainable shopping experience. The team presented their idea to their school board and will be sharing their findings at the next public meeting.
E.C.O. (Energy Conservation Organization), Utah
Team: Trent, Danny, James, Chris, Isaac
Solutions to reduce energy waste can go a long way. Teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and her team hosted an energy-conservation week—including a student body pledge for alternative school travel, “Trashless Tuesday” to encourage recycling, “Wind Wednesday” to publicize wind power use, and more—all of which yielded participation by more than 220 people.
Team: Jasmine, Rachelle, Carson, Kate, Kshama, Julia
iElectric took aim at how much fossil fuel we burn in order to generate electricity—because it’s a lot. Teacher advisor Marci Richardson and her students developed lesson plans about their topic, used class time to teach their school community about reducing air pollution, toured the nearby power plant to conduct research, and partnered with a number of other schools in the area to get their message out.
Heater Beaters, Kentucky
Team: Ava, Ashley, Olivia, Taylor, BJ, Tayauvion, Kennedy
Why turn up the heater at home if you can just bundle up? It’s a good question if you’re concerned about reducing carbon emissions associated with our home heating systems. Heater Beaters and teacher advisor Ashlie Arkwright built and distributed “door draft stoppers” to their school community, spread their findings about energy conservation via posters and social media, and filmed a commercial about layering up at home for their school’s news channel!
Energy Enforcers, Kentucky
Team: Anthony, Haiden, Quinton, Stanett, Ni’Kerrion
Teacher advisor Melanie Trowel and her team focused specifically on getting a message out to students in lower socioeconomic schools about reducing our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels. They crafted presentations for various audiences, spoke to middle and elementary schools as well as churches in the area, and reached more than 200 adults and students in their community.
No Heat Ninjas, Kentucky
Team: Williams, Katie, Sarah, Serena, Jackson, Aidan, Vanessa, Trace
Appliances in our kitchens produce huge levels of greenhouse gas CO2, which contributes to global warming. With a raffle, presentations, and a marketing campaign, No Heat Ninjas and teacher advisor Ashlie Arkwright got one-third of their student body to pledge to eat “heatless” (no help from cooking appliances) for one day weekly—which will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 57% by year’s end!
Upcycling Vikes, Michigan
Team: Sophia, Lyndsey, Ashley, Gianna, Luci, Brooke, Emma
“Upcycling” is indeed a thing—instead of discarding things we use that can be used again, let’s improve it or recycle it, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill, shall we? Upcycling Vikes and teacher advisor Susan Tate hosted a Halloween Costume Swap that garnered nearly $200 for a local children’s hospital, five costumes that went to a family in need, 65 costumes that were donated to a woman’s shelter, and more!
WMS Ring, Ring Recyclers, Michigan
Team: Saroya, Kaelei, Jackie, Alexis, Ashlie, Taelor, Jerra, Claire
While there has been a paper recycling program at WMS Ring, Ring Recyclers’ school for years, it could stand to be improved. The team and teacher advisor Susan Tate partnered with community groups, carried out some big district-wide drives to call attention to the need for recycling, and aimed high. They collected nearly 80 cell phones, and 127 phone books for recycling and raised money to paint the brand-new recycling center they set up at their school.
Here are the winners of the Land & Water Challenge!
Positive Coralation, New York
Team: Annie, Christiana, Dorothy, Emma, Eric, Fraz, Gayatri, Suzanne
The health of coral reefs all over the world is in danger: rising ocean temperatures, harmful fishing practices, pollutants in our waters, coral diseases and bleaching, and more. Positive Coralation and teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall studied coral growth and gathered pertinent data, held snorkeling lessons to raise funds for the Coral Restoration Foundation, hosted instructive field trips for elementary schools, and reached out to families in Brazil and Israel to market their message and gain support for the cause.
BRMHS Bulldogs, Louisiana
Team: Dana, Monika, Maedeh, Arvind, Ember
Teacher advisor Laurie Font and her team took on a local issue that’s very close to their hearts: the loss of Louisiana wetlands and coastal erosion. BRMHS Bulldogs heavily researched their topic and put together informative interactive presentations—which included live experiments to show erosion to barrier islands as well as the effects of oil spills on wildlife—for younger students and public events.
The Pollinator Project, Missouri
Team: Abigail, Andrew, Bryheem, Alec, Claire, Justin, Ellen, Alex, Jillian, Douglas
The Pollinator Project’s fascinating plan focused on the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), an issue that causes bees to abandon a colony overnight for mysterious reasons. These bees are pollinators and critical to U.S. crop production. The students and their teacher advisor Russ Barton created seed packets for grasses and plants that provide pollinator food and habitat, they prepared school grounds for a big spring replanting, collaborated with local conservation groups and scientists, and more!
Bottle Busters, Georgia
Team: Michelle, Elizabeth, Lauren, Hannah, Caroline, Chambers
“Ban the bottle,” exclaim Georgia’s Bottle Busters! And with good reason: The production of water bottles calls for millions of oil barrels annually, and billions of bottles remain in landfills. The team and teacher advisor Paul Midkiff sold reusable bottles to more than 25% of their school, successfully secured the installation of five brand-new filling stations on campus, and got a bunch of local press coverage of their work!
Team: Sonia, Vibha, Sophia, Udit, Dinesh
Guided by teacher advisor Mike Town, Tesla STEM Aquifer Education tackled how aquifers (sustainable, natural water-purification systems) are critical to fresh drinking water locally, specifically as their school employs herbicides. The team crafted posters and spoke at nearby schools, community centers, and more about the importance of making sure local aquifers stay clean and contaminant-free!
The Minnewaska pHish, New York
Team: Joanna, Austin, Zachary, Adam, Shane, Kesava
Several years ago the water in New York’s Lake Minnewaska, not far from where the Minnewaska pHish team go to school, was far too acidic to support wildlife. But since 2009, the lake’s pH has been increasing and it’s now home to fish, ducks, leeches, and more. These changes are big and affect residents’ use of the lake. The team as well as teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall set out to investigate, collecting field data, surveying locals, testing pH, and working with scientists at SUNY New Paltz!
Saint Joseph Academy Bloomfighters, Ohio
Team: Grace, Heavenlee, Jackie, Dililah, Rachel, Jocelyn, Joslyn, Madeline, Maggie, Nina
When a large algae bloom prevented freshwater from getting to people in Toledo, Ohio, one weekend, teacher advisor Mary Ellen Scott and her team knew that blooms would be a worthy issue to study! Too much algae produces unsafe water and kills wildlife. The Bloomfighters visited the six rivers in the Northeast Ohio watershed to Lake Erie to collect data, partnered with the water department and a local park, and shared a video they produced about preventing algae blooms with hundreds of students!
Kelp Huggers, California
Team: Virginia, Maya, Biura, Laura, Xochil, Mary, Kamran, Trevor, Henry
Littering remains a huge factor in threats to the health of Earth’s waterways and oceans. The Kelp Huggers and teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye took to the seas—with the help of an ROV (remotely operated vehicle), the students sought out and collected underwater trash at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California (and employed social media to recruit other like-minded souls). They retrieved more than 1,300 pieces of litter—lots of paper and plastic—and presented their research to their classmates and at a number of public events.
HMS Weed Pullers, Michigan
Team: Grace, Andrew, Inseo, Bailey, Samantha, Mackenzie, Kevin, Katie, Lana, Theresa
The coastline in Houghton County, Michigan, is becoming home to exotic invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard that are replacing the plants native to the area. By initiating a school-wide native planting event, distributing literature, speaking in classrooms and at parent-teacher meetings, and presenting at a college science conference and to the press, the Pullers brought their community up to speed!
Charging Station, New Jersey
Team: Arianna, Ivonne, Mathew, Tyriek, Lucas
Promoting alternative energy sources was at the top of Charging Station’s agenda. Guided by teacher advisor Albert Padilla, the team gathered data and talked with engineers at the local Stevens Institute of Technology. They put together a project that yielded a low wind turbine prototype that they hope will position their school and other nearby schools as a wind-powered charging station during big weather events in the years to come.
Algae Extinguishers, New Jersey
Team: Amberrain, Kevin, Gisselle, Kimberly, Adriana
Algae Extinguishers zeroed in on Cyanobacteria, commonly called “blue-green” algae, that produce a number of toxins that can result in harmful algae blooms, or rapid increases in algae within a body of water. Teacher advisor Malissa Yabut and her team researched their topic heavily (culturing algae in their lab), secured media coverage, and reached out to legislators about water standards relating to harmful algae blooms, and developed a floating solar powered bio-filter device!
WMS Bead Banishers, Michigan
Team: Tristan, Leeanna, Dylan, Rylee, Michelle, Raven, Zeza
A high concentration of microbead pollutants, an environmental concern that’s caused by tiny nonbiodegradable plastic particles found in toothpaste and facial scrubs, is affecting the health of the Great Lakes. WMS Bead Banishers and teacher advisor Susan Tate reached out to local organizations that are fighting the problem, presented to more than 400 students, and got the word out to parents and local businesses about the problem!
Team: Abigail, Josh, Kate, Carson, Nate
Why dump your old cell phone in the trash when you can recycle it? iRecycle and teacher advisor JoAnne Brown rolled out a marketing campaign about their cause and created an incentive for a used cell phone drive at school. Each student who recycled would get gift cards and coupons for local restaurants; the team collected and recycled almost 600 old phones!
Team: Jasper, Jason, Arjun, Kim-Anh, Marcella
Lead and copper have a heavy presence in Lake Wire, a local lake in Phytosympathy’s community. The team and teacher advisor Marci Richardson planned on planting water hyssop (a plant that can naturally absorb pollutants from water) in Lake Wire. They conducted research, shared their findings with the school, and cultivated water hyssop in the school’s wading pool, where they’ll tend the plants before moving them to the lake.
S.T.A.X., New Jersey
Team: Laila, Amani, Nataly, Miguel, Patrick
New Jersey’s Super Tilapia Algae Xterminators (S.T.A.X.) didn’t much care for the sight of the algae that disrupts recreation at their local reservoir. Led by teacher advisor Malissa Yabut, the students successfully implemented an aquaculture program where they raised freshwater tilapia fish to release into the reservoir to naturally rid it of algae!
SPAE Green Team, Arizona
Team: Lance, Destiny, Kelly, Kaleb, Kiara, Noel, Ryan
Teacher advisor Lisa Brame and SPAE Green Team hoped that their school could “become a leader” in eco-education—for the student body and greater community. With no recycling program in place at their school, the team led instructive presentations on composting and recycling, forged local partnerships, and garnered a donation of 24 blue recycling cans from a nearby store for their already successful recycling program!