Congratulations to the winners of the 2013—2014 Final Challenge!

HIGH SCHOOL GRAND PRIZE

 
Pinelands Eco Scienteers, New Jersey
Team:
Mikaela, Jon, Christopher, Bridget, Michael, Jack, Samantha, Anthony
After aiming at deforestation for an ongoing project that ultimately resulted in Pinelands Eco Scienteers producing their own briquette presses and biomass briquettes made of peanut shells and pine needles, teacher advisor Stephen Kubricki and his students went global. The students’ briquette presses were tested in a rural village in Guatemala, where they were deemed a successful method of generating biofuel. The team presented their work at the New Jersey State House and The White House, and will testify before the New Jersey Department of Education in 2014 on the importance of including deforestation in science classes. In the meantime, the team’s “100 Presses in 100 Days” initiative should go a long way in mass generating these miracle machines—Pinelands Eco Scienteers are in talks with partner organizations to get these presses (as soon as they’re ready) to international rural village orphanages and more.


MIDDLE SCHOOL GRAND PRIZE

 
BCWMS Electrical Team, Michigan
Team:
Tyler, Zoe, Kylie, Elise, Chapin, Olivia, Leah, Jordan, Ashley
BCWMS Electrical Team sent a simple message to its school this year about saving energy through an extensive promotional campaign, magazine and television attention, and by building a pedal-powered generator to charge campus computers. Later, they switched gears for the Final Challenge. Led by teacher advisor Justin VandePol, these students took on a fund-raising project to improve access to clean water in the Philippines, Haiti, and Kenya. They spread the word about the scarcity of clean water in other countries, and spearheaded various local programs in order to raise money to ship water purifiers to international regions in need. The students sent purifiers to the Philippines using Eco Challenge prize money and funds they raised, and partnered with a nonprofit to help rebuild a well in a Kenyan village!

MIDDLE SCHOOL FIRST PLACE

 
Arsenic Arresters, Texas
Team:
Brett, Lane, George, Chad, Hudson, Jeffrey
Teacher advisor Laura Wilbanks and her team continued to chase down a solution for improving drinking water quality in their region, and expanded their investigation to include India, where fatalities are mounting due to the appearance of arsenic in the water there. The World Health Organization identified the naturally occurring mineral arsenic as a “major health concern” in 2010, and Arsenic Arresters honed in on exactly that: they conducted research, forged international partnerships to distribute a water filter in India, purchased a greenhouse for native plant growth, and more.


 
Eco Tigers, Arizona
Team:
Eric, Turner, Andrew, Michael, Josie, Emily, Jackson, John Paul, Aidan, Eric N.
Eco Tigers and teacher advisor Alexis Marsden began with a somewhat humble approach to the improper disposal of plastic bags that plagues their community. While the team worked to raise local awareness of the need for recycling plastic bags (via presentations, email campaigns, collection drives, recycling bin installations, and more), their goal expanded to include teaching ambassadors to Haiti how school children and adults there could repurpose plastic bags into more useful items like jump ropes and satchels!

 
iCompost, Michigan
Team:
Alyssa, Emma, Gianna, Leeanna, Lyndsey
Since iCompost and teacher advisor Susan Tate put together their award-winning Air & Climate project on composting, they’ve collected almost 20 pounds of fruit and vegetable waste weekly at school. This led the team to discover that its school community is wasting a lot of food! iCompost partnered with a regional gleaners organization to reduce food waste. They improved their current composting program, conducted recycling drives, published a cookbook that centers on leftover food items, expanded their project to include other local schools, raised more than $1,500 for a mobile food pantry, and more!

 
Trash Terminators 2.0, North Carolina
Team:
Vincent, Rohan, Elizabeth, Arden, Quentin, Graeme
When Trash Terminators 2.0 and teacher advisor Ed Baruch learned that their region’s trash is transported over 100 miles after it leaves their homes, the team explored a composting option that would reduce the town’s carbon footprint. The students had already implemented a composting program at their school, so they set their sights on expanding the program to the greater school district and community. They commissioned an infomercial about composting to run on local TV, secured newspaper articles about their proposals, and more. After widely marketing their ideas, all schools in the district will begin composting by the end of 2014, which will divert 80% of the trash from going to the landfill!

HIGH SCHOOL FIRST PLACE

 
The NHS Renewables, Florida
Team:
Kyla, John, Awdrey, Jeremiah, Destiny, Casey, David, Dylan, Jacob, Roshelle
The NHS Renewables and teacher advisor Cynthia Holland took on a singular issue for the Final Challenge: the use of renewable wind energy in order to reduce fossil fuel reliance! The team hosted farmers, city officials, and more at a big farm-to-table dinner, where they discussed their proposals, all of which were subsequently put to work: building an axis wind turbine for charging the school’s janitorial golf cart, developing lesson plans on sustainable energy to be used statewide, collecting carbon dioxide-level data on nine different locations across the state to share with researchers, and more!

 
Go Clean, Go Green, Goooo Algae!, Pennsylvania
Team:
Ian, Alex, Noah, Dan, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Megan, John, Courtney
Guided by teacher advisors Shannon Helzer and Sid Harwood, Go Clean, Go Green… continued to explore the development of biofuels made from algae-extracted lipid oils. The team worked hard to promote the use of algae biofuels on a local, national, and global level, garnering acknowledgement from school officials as well as state legislators and members of the U.S. Senate. Additionally, the students hunkered down in the lab, analyzing water chemistry, identifying a course toward sustaining a healthy algae-based ecosystem, researching more efficient extraction techniques, and more.

 
The Enviros, California
Team:
Vahe, Allen, Orbel, Eric, Patrick, Issa, Arzviek, Petra, Anna
Although The Enviros were focused entirely on plants earlier this year, the students and teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye shifted their focus toward ocean pollution and the threats associated with marine debris for the Final Challenge. The team conducted aquatic surveys with scientific divers, collected data on marine debris and created story maps to share with their research partners, organized teacher GIS training, put together a coastal cleanup day, spread the word via presentations, secured a grant to purchase a remotely operated vehicle for research, and more!

 
Team Waste Busters, Missouri
Team:
Alec, Kevin, Maxim, Justin, Abby, Lindsay, Phillip, Panache
Although resource depletion was at the core of this action plan from Team Waste Busters and teacher advisor Russ Barton, the project was far more diverse. The students are overseeing their district’s new composting program, they’re encouraging their peers to conserve paper, they have begun to divert vegetable scraps from the school cafeteria to their vermicomposter, and are working on constructing raised flower beds for native plants. The team’s simple pro-conservation stickers for the school’s paper towel dispensers are proving effective, and they’ve planted and managed air-pruned trees to help slow regional deforestation!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013—2014 Air & Climate Challenge! 

HIGH SCHOOL

 
The Eco Narcs MK II, California
Team
: Sevag, Marc, Virginia, Alvin, Anna, Ashot, Kamran, Jennifer
Led by teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye, the Eco Narcs MK II took on what they call the "escalating environmental concern" of how auto emissions contribute to acid rain. The students gathered data on several different vehicles, tested pH levels at three separate natural locales, filmed a documentary about the project, and published their results-how these cars contribute to smog, greenhouse gases, etc.—to a handful of social-media channels and more to spread the word.

 
The Window Team, South Carolina
Team:
Jeremy, Christian, Justin, Kyle, Kevin, Yi, Sam, Victor
Improper insulation and outdated window design can yield costly utility bills and energy waste. Teacher advisor Susan LaFlam and her team looked no further than their school for their project. Beginning with small experiments and gradually moving to larger research to demonstrate how heat-reflecting film can save energy, the Window Team presented their findings to the school's administration to encourage greener window design campus-wide.

 
Visitation Vivettes, Missouri
Team:
Megan, Julia, Elle, Emily, Jacqlynn, Samantha, Sarah, Kailin, Maggie
Teacher advisor Monica Merkley and the Visitation Vivettes singled out their home state of Missouri in assembling their project, which focuses on plastic water bottle use in the United States. From various angles, which included extensive research on the issue, selling eco-friendly water bottles at school, and raffles that incentivized the school community to think green, these Vivettes aimed high.

 
Psionic Mushrooms, Michigan
Team:
Virang, Caleb, Jerry, Ian, Kaylin
Psionic Mushrooms and teacher advisor Richard Eberly hoped to encourage members of their community to construct and install solar heat collectors, which go a long way to reduce air pollution as well as energy bills. The students' plan builds on an existing project to spread the word about solar energy alternatives, and to date, after securing a grant and presenting to school board members and others, they've installed nearly a dozen solar heat collectors and trained at least 100 other folks how to build and implement their own.

 
The Enviros, California
Team:
Vahe, Allen, Orbel, Eric, Patrick, Issa, Arzviek, Petra, Anna
Plants, plants, plants. The Enviros and teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye spent a lot of time on plants for their project, specifically on how global warming affects blooming patterns, the advance of invasive species, and native habitats. The team partnered with local park officials and nonprofit groups in order to research, experiment, and educate their peers. They hosted workshops, restored their school's native plant garden, and shared valuable eco-findings with field campaign Project Budhurst and the Calflora database.

 
Phineas and Ferns, Virginia
Team:
Delaney, Sierra, Josephine, Ryan, Matthew
Chesapeake Bay, like any wide-open natural area, is frighteningly vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change. True to its name, Phineas and Ferns and teacher advisor Stephen Meade looked to the bay's fern population in order to learn about soil pollution. The students intentionally polluted nearby soil, examined the results on ferns they'd planted, and shared their conclusion that our habits greatly affect the health of our environment!

 
The NHS Renewables, Florida
Team:
Kyla, John, Awdrey, Jeremiah, Destiny, Casey, David, Dylan, Jacob, Roshelle
Teacher advisor Cynthia Holland and her team zoomed back from their rather broad focus on fossil fuels to choose three types of renewable energy: solar, hydro, and wind. Their efforts, to introduce a reliance on alternative energy sources to the community, reached potentially hundreds of people and included the production of educational videos, building a solar-powered cell phone charger, building mini wind turbines, creating a comic book that promoted their ideas, and more!

 
Go Clean, Go Green, Goooo Algae!, Pennsylvania
Team:
Ian, Alex, Noah, Dan, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Megan, John, Courtney
Led by co-teacher advisors Sid Harwood and Shannon Helzer, this team harvested algae from local ponds in order to explore its use as an energy alternative. The students completed work on a bioreactor and hosted an event for the local community to demonstrate how lipid oil is extracted from algae and converted into biodiesel!

MIDDLE SCHOOL

 
Tunnel Savers, New Jersey
Team:
Abdel, Antonio, Jericho, Cristian, Miguel
Tunnel Savers live in a region of the United States that was directly affected by 2012's Hurricane Sandy. Led by teacher advisor Joel Naatus, the students used their experience with Sandy as a basis for their project: a plan to reduce flooding in tunnels during weather emergencies. In addition to the simple hurricane-safety brochure they put together (in five languages!), the team developed and heavily tested a system that automatically fills bags with sand for the threat of a hurricane.

 
Mean Green Machines, Connecticut
Team:
Joshua, Nicole, Romy, Daniel, Cassidy, Dylan
Mean Green Machines teacher advisors Jennifer Hayducky and Nancy Dunn guided their team in accomplishing an arduous task for what is probably a simple goal: planting trees in order to purify the air and to release oxygen. After researching the environmental benefit that trees offer, the students forged a relationship with workers on a nearby preserve and planted 22 trees there!

 
Ghost Busters, Florida
Team:
Jasper, Kate, Soha, Chidi, Sarah
In focusing on the energy we can save by turning off those appliances that drain electricity somewhat deviously, teacher advisor Debbie Viertel and her team set their sights on what they called "an important community outreach project." The team's effort to spread the word about "ghost electricity" (CD players, televisions, and more that turn on/stay on) included events and producing and distributing an array of educational materials to six schools in the region!

 
The Passive Solar Sunday Team, Texas
Team:
Joseline, Albin, Tyler, Ryan, Kenna, Dawson, Joshua
Sunday is said by some to be a big day for energy use. Teacher advisor Kimberly Church and her team secured multiple partnerships with community groups and businesses, apartment complexes, and more to get the word out. They took to social-media channels and employed a grassroots approach with one simple message: "On Sunday, shut off some lights and open the blinds instead!"

 
BCWMS Electrical Team, Michigan
Team:
Tyler, Zoe, Kylie, Raven, Elise, Chapin, Olivia, Leah, Jordan, Ashley
Teacher advisor Justin VandePol and his team saw to it that everyone on their school's campus got a thorough lesson in carbon footprint reduction, and aimed their efforts almost entirely at laptop computer use. They organized an "Eco Week" that offered the team's peers energy-saving practices with regard to computer use, spread the word via the web and more, and purchased a pedal-powered generator to charge the school's computers instead of plugging into the wall!

 
Windustry, Utah
Team:
Alex, Jacob, Michael, Jacob, Connor
People of Utah, heed Windustry's word on wind power! Teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and her team gathered data on the benefits of using wind energy. The students created a model wind turbine and a video demonstration to post online, with the hopes that their state would take seriously this alternative to quickly depleting fossil fuels.
 
 
iCompost, Michigan
Team:
Alyssa, Emma, Gianna, Leeanna, Lyndsey
Three cheers for industrious students anywhere who help devise a school system for composting, a practice that breaks down organic matter so that it might be recycled as fertilizer. It isn't always easy to convince folks to compost, and teacher advisor Susan Tate and her team conducted and shared valuable research, partnered with a local conservation group, implemented composting on school grounds, and collected more than 450 pounds of compostable material in three weeks!

 
Solar Plug Solution, Utah
Team:
Ayden, Tanner, Nate, Api, Parker, Robby
Solar Plug Solution and teacher advisor JoAnne Brown found that their home state of Utah uses a great deal of coal energy but few renewable energy sources. The team started small, but after conducting research, reaching out to local organizations, and generating buzz for alternative energy use at their school, Solar Plug Solution built a device that allows handheld electronics for the school's outdoor classroom to run on solar power!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012—2013 Land & Water Challenge!

HIGH SCHOOL

project reservoir
 
The Eco Narcs MK II, California
Team
: Sevag, Marc, Virginia, Alvin, Anna, Ashot, Kamran, Jennifer
Teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye and her team tackled environmental deforestation, specifically as it relates to the illegal harvesting of marijuana in their region. The students used sophisticated geographic information system (GIS) technology, mapping software, and desktop publishing in their implementation and public outreach efforts, and assisted the Ventura County sheriff department in its struggle to prevent deforestation through the area's illegal marijuana grow sites.

eco warriors
 
Greengineers, Illinois
Team:
Pawel, Evan, Krusha, Jamie, Jill
Led by teacher advisor Colleen Brandner, Greengineers employed a multitiered project to battle the increasingly prevalent issue of improper medication and medicine bottle disposal. The team put together a community awareness campaign (including a vibrant website that allows for users to search for medicine "Take Back" drives and recycling events by zip code) and forged partnerships with mainstream pharmacy chain stores to spread the word.

can you hear me
 
IB Sciences Group 4 Initiative, Texas
Team:
Mary Claire, Mohammed, Taylor, Roshan, Gabrielle
The once flourishing natural area in front of the high school that the students of IB Sciences Group 4 Initiative attend is deteriorating. Teacher advisor Rhoda Hahn and her team developed a long-term plan to introduce sustainability to the area that includes spreading awareness of conservation techniques, the use of solar power and geothermal energy, as well as building out uses for rainwater collection and distribution. Nice work!

pesticide
 
Mission Mitigation, New York
Team:
Will, Joanna, Douglas, Veronica, Sushruta, Suvruta, Ben, Aakriti
Teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall and her team directed their efforts at a number of tasks that fall under the umbrella of the Lexus Eco Challenge's Land & Water portion-the topics included loss of biodiversity, endangered species, and more. Mission Mitigation worked with the New York State Department of Transportation to lessen the impact that state and local construction had on their region's biodiversity, such as nearby natural habitats for turtles and bats.

eckh20
 
Pinelands Eco Scienteers, New Jersey
Team:
Mikaela, Jon, Christopher, Bridget, Michael, Jack, Samantha, Anthony
Pinelands Eco Scienteers might be named for a wooded coastal area in the state of New Jersey, but teacher advisor Stephen Kubricki and his team looked to the world's vanishing forests for their inspiration. Their anti-deforestation project, which began with research into international cooking-fuel alternatives, ultimately yielded their own biomass briquettes made of peanut shells and pine needles! They've identified grants and potential donors as next steps.

 
Team 696, California
Team:
Mariam, Cynthia, Lulua, Jerry, Matej, Chris, Saikiran
Teacher advisor David Black and his team surveyed the damaging effects that wildfires have on America's forests and put into place a plan to speed regrowth in Deukmejian Wilderness Park, an area destroyed by fire and invasive species. The students constructed and launched a weather balloon (!!!) to collect data over more than 800 square miles, presented findings to local schools, and partnered with local officials to aid in post-fire regrowth at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, where they distributed more than 100 gallons of water to 37 trees.

 
Team Cahaba, Alabama
Team:
Caroline, Jonny, Massie, Tyler, Hunter
Chinese privet, a shrub that's spread across Alabama thanks to seeds that were sown by birds and carried by water, is among the most invasive plant species in the state. Team Cahaba and teacher advisor Janet Ort measured the density and regrowth rate of the invasive plant, and set aside a "Privet Pull," whereby they enlisted the help of more than 40 volunteers to remove privet from their campus while rolling out a plan with vegetation experts to clear three other pinpointed sites.

 
The Preservation Foundation, California
Team:
Jasmine, Aaron, Keeley, Daniel, Jacob, Danny, Michaela
The Preservation Foundation designated a section of decimated wetlands area in and near their school's campus in order to restore it by transplanting new wetlands growth. Led by teacher advisor David Getner, the team conducted extensive research and got to work. The results? More than 3,000 pounds of new wetlands growth, involvement of more than 100 students, the removal of 150 pounds of trash, and more. Wow!

 
Waste Busters, Missouri
Team:
Alec, Kevin, Andy, Justin, Abby, Phillip, Panache
Waste Busters countered their region's dependency on landfills, opening up the option of composting to other schools in their district (as well as educating the student body about it) and spreading the message of recycling unconventional materials like electronics. Teacher advisor Russ Barton and his students implemented e-waste recycling drives, composting and vermicomposting (which earned the district an award from the state), and set up a garden for native plants on land that was overrun by invasive honeysuckle. Kudos, Waste Busters!

 
St. Ursula Arrows, Ohio
Team:
Emily, Mattison, Neera, Alyssa, Jasmine, Beatrice, Maddie, Charese, Caroline
St. Ursula Arrows aimed high for their Action Plan with a bold attempt to prevent water runoff from their school grounds from finding its way into Lake Erie-runoff that carries salt, oil, and fertilizers into nearby waterways and grass areas. Teacher advisor Jackie Kane and her team worked with school officials, their city's environmental department, and more to educate themselves and others, as well as to construct a remediation site (removal of polluted soil, planting native rain garden plants and rocks) to reduce pollution caused by their school.


MIDDLE SCHOOL

 
Team Eco Tiger, Arizona
Team:
Eric, Turner, Andrew, Michael, Josie, Emily, Jackson, John Paul, Aidan, Eric N.
Team Eco Tiger's school uses more than 33,000 plastic bottles over the course of each year. After rolling out a big awareness campaign, Team Eco Tigers and teacher advisor Alexis Marsden implemented simple environmental solutions like reusable water bottles for the student community, flavor packets in lieu of retail plastic bottled drinks, and more.

 
Trash Terminators 2.0, North Carolina
Team:
Vincent, Rohan, Elizabeth, Arden, Quentin, Graeme
Thanks to their careful audit of trash collection at their school, the Trash Terminators 2.0 determined that 55% of the campus's cafeteria waste was compostable. Teacher advisor Jamie Davis and his students partnered with a composting facility, set up a composting initiative, and hustled to get the word out. They diverted more than 80% of their school's trash by recycling and composting!

 
Eco MythBusters, New Jersey
Team:
Victoria, Hanna, Morgan, Madison, Zachary, Justin, Samantha, Julianna, Kara, Giana
Eco MythBusters wanted to refer to their school as a "green school," but they needed to improve the institution's recycling program first. They gathered relevant data about how much recycling was happening, who was recycling, and how more recycling could be encouraged. Led by teacher advisor Tara Melchior, Eco MythBusters promoted eco action district-wide in a short film, set up a community recycling event, incentivized students and staff to recycle, and improved "green" thinking at their school significantly.

 
Arsenic Arresters, Texas
Team:
Brett, Lane, Jeffrey, Chad, George, Hudson
Based on reports of high levels of arsenic found in groundwater not far from where Arsenic Arresters attend school, the students took aim at the pervasive problem of contaminated drinking water in their region. Teacher advisor Laura Wilbanks and her team partnered with officials and with students at local colleges to gather and analyze data, spearheaded a massive public information campaign, received the President's Volunteer Service Award for their work, and more!
 
 
The Green Jobs Team, Texas
Team:
Kenna, Joshua, Tyler, Ryan, Kayley
Look no further than the name: The Green Jobs Team set out to explore exactly what the professionals in the green jobs sector do for a living. Teacher advisor Kimberly Church and her team hoped to encourage an understanding of green jobs for students in their community, particularly to inspire their peers to consider careers in that sector. They gathered information (reaching out to elected officials, engineers, energy company professionals, and more) and subsequently organized and presented it at a "Green Jobs Summit" for a district-wide audience!

 
Muscles, Iowa
Team:
Sydney, Tayler, Kelby, Ciana, Sadie, Elliot
Originally found in Europe and in the former Soviet Union, an invasive species of mollusk called zebra mussels has been flourishing in the United States since 1998. By securing information from the Department of Natural Resources, actively communicating the need for community attention via radio, social media, and a print information campaign, Muscles and teacher advisor Phoebe Pittman took steps to prevent this pest from further damaging the local ecosystems of Northeast Iowa!

Click here for 2012/2013 Winners!

Click here for 2011/2012 Winners!

Click here for 2010/2011 Winners!

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