Congratulations to the winners of the 2012—2013 Final Challenge!

HIGH SCHOOL GRAND PRIZE

 
The Elymenators, New York
Team: Joanna, Hannah, Sid, Aakriti, Rahul
For their entry in this year's Land & Water challenge, teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall and her team, the Elymenators, took on the considerable amount of Lyme disease cases that their hometown is reporting. For the Final Challenge, the team reviewed the data they gathered about the local spread of the disease in order to apply their findings to an international campaign. The Elymenators mailed letters to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to petition for readministration of the Lyme vaccine and visited local schools and medical offices to educate people about Lyme disease prevention (and the correlation between the disease and nearby wildlife destruction). For a wider-ranging approach, the team contacted various national hospitals and got enthusiastic notes of support from medical facilities in India, South Korea, and Germany.


MIDDLE SCHOOL GRAND PRIZE

 
Eco Hawks, South Carolina
Team: Lexis, Tyler, Caroline, Andrea, Kimberly, Madison, Kirsten, Kaylee, Britney, Aaron
For their Final Challenge project, teacher advisor Alexandra Davis and the Eco Hawks put it simply: "We focused on people's knowledge of recyclable items." Even though green issues have received more national attention over the past 10 years, the team's home state of South Carolina has an extraordinarily low recycling rate at 27.7%. (In 2011, Virginia and Washington reported 43% and 50%, respectively, for example.) The Eco Hawks used their state's reportedly low enthusiasm for recycling as an incentive to get the word out. The results are quite inspiring: The team partnered with dozens of local organizations, spoke to the House of Representatives, appeared in newspapers and local television news, and more. Their programs yielded a 16% increase in local curbside recycling, and the students collected nearly 70,000 plastic bottle caps for recycling!

HIGH SCHOOL FIRST PLACE

 
Real Cost Calculators, Massachusetts
Team: William, Lily, Alexxa, Annalise, Arluah, Mindy
Teacher advisor Cate Arnold and her team developed what they call a "Real Cost Kiosk," an online service-learning tool that promotes more responsible consumers by assessing the big-picture toll (costs of natural resources, labor, energy, and more) for using a common item. The students spread the word about their kiosk by forging partnerships with 30 schools, as well as mapping out a physical kiosk for their school.


 
The Take Charge Team, Ohio
Team: Liam, Noah, Alex, Max, Lilly, Cal, Andrew, Kelli
While the practice of fracking (drilling and firing liquid into the ground to extract natural gas from rocks) threatens water and air safety for the Take Charge Team's community, the students and advisor Natalie Cooper found that the same problems are affecting people in Guatemala. They partnered with the Social Entrepreneur Corps and Community Enterprise Solutions to distribute water filtration units and cookstoves to families and schools in rural Guatemala.

 
Riptides, California
Team: Zane, Erit, Erik, Adriel, Joni, Christine, Tatiana, Megan
For the purpose of supporting reforestation efforts, the Riptides' native plant garden made a strong first step in 2013's Lexus Eco Challenge (it will conserve 336 gallons of water per week). Led by teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye, the team explored DNA sequences with researchers at Coastal Marine Biolabs and partnered with an environmental group to grow seeds to create native plant gardens in other National Parks.

 
Climate Control Corps, Florida
Team: Kyla, Blake, Jeremiah, Jenna, David, Savannah, Destiny, Sara, John
With loads of varying ideas, Climate Control Corps (CCC) and teacher advisor Dr. Cynthia Holland extended this year's efforts to reduce the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Eco-themed murals, educational videos, an environmentally conscious treasure hunt, and a solar water heater were among CCC's inventive projects.

MIDDLE SCHOOL FIRST PLACE

 
Project Reservoir, New Jersey
Team: Cristy, Sophia, Victoria, Jennifer, Ryan, Lexus
The mosquito population in Project Reservoir's community is particularly pesky. A local initiative from the team and teacher advisors Robert O'Donnell and Joel Naatus to reduce mosquitoes (adding holes to garbage cans, because without them, they're breeding grounds!) worked like a charm. Currently, five additional schools and several city firehouses have adopted the "Put a Hole in It" campaign, and local and national governments have been looped in on the progress.

 
Green Our School, Texas
Team: Reed, Crystal, John, Sarah, Avery, Ethan
After getting approval to have energy tiles installed in every hallway of their school, Green Our School and teacher advisor Kimberly Church proposed a district-wide plan to their school board for an energy reduction policy that was unanimously accepted and has been implemented on all 33 campuses. The students prepared a science curriculum, developed a smartphone app that offers an "energy use calculator," and more.

 
Kookaburras, Utah
Team: Tyler, Talmage, Olivia, Campbell, Will
After teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and the Kookaburras found that a predatory European bird was threatening the native bird population, they took action by building birdhouses. The students worked with organizations and sanctuaries to promote the preservation of their state's birds and linked up with more than 60 Cub Scouts troops to produce 100 more birdhouses!

 
ECOH20 Preservers, Michigan
Team: Chris, Harmony, Emily, Tony, Samantha, Brian, Deshawn, Camei
The ECOH20 Preservers' action plan eventually took the team all over the world-not literally, of course. Teacher advisor June Teisan and her students connected with schools in Singapore, Brazil, South Korea, and China to expand their research on water quality issues to a global platform. They'll soon present current and past data from their projects at the 10th Biennial Lake Superior Youth Symposium.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012—2013 Air & Climate Challenge! 

MIDDLE SCHOOL

 
Breaking Wind, New Jersey
Team: Michael, Shannon, Sean, Jenna, Alexandra
After the events of Hurricane Sandy, teacher advisor Colleen Nauta and her team focused their efforts on reducing dependency on gasoline. The students explored hybrid electricity, conducted experiments, and worked their way toward generating energy with a small 12-blade wind turbine!

 
CO2 Crew, New Jersey
Team: Olivia, Kimberly, Isabella, Alexandra, Alana, Anna, Jamie
By implementing a pledge to cut down on the number of idling cars in the school pickup lane, teacher advisor Loris Chen and the CO2 Crew positioned themselves behind New Jersey's idling laws, which are in place to reduce carbon emissions. Secondly, the students raised more than $400 for a local wildlife sanctuary in an effort to offset CO2 by replanting trees!

 
Green Our School, Texas
Team: Reed, Crystal, John, Sarah, Avery, Ethan
Green Our School and teacher advisor Kimberly Church unexpectedly had their minds blown when they looked into what their school district spends on electricity. They're on their way to having energy tiles installed in every hallway of their school and have encouraged at least 14 schools in the district to power down half their lights for "Half-Watt Wednesdays" going forward.

 
Eco Hawks, South Carolina
Team: Tyler, Kimberly, Aaron, Andrea, Britney, Lexis, Madison, Kaylee, Kirsten
The Eco Hawks and teacher advisor Alexandra Davis took on the not-so-small task of what they call "greenifying." The team worked with several organizations and community partners to grow recycling campaigns on and off campus (more than 12,000 items recycled in the community), expand aid efforts to Hurricane Sandy victims, and more!

 
Green Freaks, Kentucky
Team: Margaret, Landon, Alexia, Elizabeth, Anna, John, Madison
Teacher advisor Ashlie Arkwright and her team discovered that, at their school, 73% of the student body is discarding plastic lunch bags daily. Green Freaks set out to change that, encouraging fellow students with brochures, posters, and social media to switch to reusable lunch containers.

 
Eco-Excitement, Kentucky
Team: Matthew, Abbie, Presley, Callaway, Katelyn, Margaret, Marissa
After surveying the school community about the amount of meat they were eating, Eco-Excitement set up "Meatless Tuesday" (coupled with associated posters, flyers, and more) with the intention of spreading the word about the strain that meat consumption puts on the environment. Led by teacher advisor Ashlie Arkwright, Eco-Excitement's meat-free lunch reduced CO2 emissions by nearly 280 pounds that day!

 
Geothermal Awareness Team, Utah
Team: Carl, Ethan, AnnaMichelle, Emma, Aisha
What's in a name? The Geothermal Awareness Team set out to inform their school and local community about saving money and providing a clean energy alternative to fossil fuels. Teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and her students promoted the benefits of geothermal energy with social media and a poster and flyer campaign, and they look forward to expanding the reach of their message!

 
Renewable Ravens, California
Team: Jordan, Joseph, Victoria, Hailey, Kirsten, ,Elora, Ethan, Amaya
The Renewable Ravens live in a particularly solar-panel- and wind-energy-friendly area of California, so it made sense for teacher advisor Stacy Zelenski and her students to focus on global warming. Backing a campaign about reducing fossil fuel reliance with a school-wide door decorating competition, distribution of more than 150 flyers, a car pool day, and more, this team got its message out!


HIGH SCHOOL

 
Recycling Outside of the Box, New York
Team: Marissa, Charlotte, Moriah, Taylor, Carley, Mallorey, Sara Rosa, Caitlin, Trayton, Allyson
Hey, nontraditional recyclable items need to be reused, too, you know? Led by teacher advisor Nicole Lener, Recycling Outside of the Box set up a free local market for collection and exchange, and filled more than 40 collection boxes with nearly 300 cell phones, inkjet printer cartridges, and more!

 
BLS YouthCAN: Guardians of the Greenosphere, Massachusetts
Team: Annalisa, Alexxa, Molly, Jeremiah, Madeline, Peter, Marrisa, Julia, Victoria, Ian
With a two-pronged program that took aim at engagement and education, Guardians of the Greenosphere's project was actually a bit complex. Teacher advisor Cate Arnold and her team launched a "Random Acts of Green" initiative that awarded students "caught" in doing good green deeds, promoted carpooling and solar panels, loaded up two cars full of goods for Hurricane Sandy victims, and more!

 
Climate Control Corps, Florida
Team: Savannah, Samantha, Sara, John, Jenna, David, Jeremiah, Kyla, Blake, Destiny
Seedlings, storybooks, and TV commercials—Climate Control Corps were all over the map. Teacher advisor Cynthia Holland and her team explored the value of reforestation in their community, planting 500 seedlings at a nearby conservation area, distributing 500 seedlings at local events, and organizing campus presentations.

 
Heat Busters, North Carolina
Team: Morgan, Octavio, Mary Beth, Nathan, Cora, Rashmi, Natalie, Victor, Mark, Ruth
Teacher advisor Deborah Massengill and Heat Busters were motivated by the lack of public concern about global warming. The students used an online petition, flyers, and posters to generate interest in reducing our individual carbon footprints. They also contacted the North Carolina General Assembly to oppose a new law that ignores the factor of sea level rise when coastal development permits are issued in the state. 

 
PCV Patchers, Indiana
Team: Akash, Joseph, Akhilesh, Thomas, Saam, Colin, Luis
A car's PCV valve (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) helps regulate the kind of automobile emissions that contribute to global warming, but drivers have to change them regularly. Teacher advisor Patrick O'Neill and his students got under the hood to test and retest the effectiveness of a PCV valve, and used local partnerships to a media outreach campaign to spread the word. They secured a pledge from nearly 900 people who've seen the light, and will regularly change out their cars' valves!

 
Forever Eco, Missouri
Team: Rico, Jacqueline, Jonathan, Yu, Ryan, Phillip, Abby, Lynn
Forever Eco and teacher advisor Russell Barton know the upside to their school's composting program, and worked to ensure that all of their classmates did, too. After a bumpy start, the students dirtied their hands in guaranteeing that only organic material was deposited in the bins (1,200 pounds daily!), raising awareness via local partnerships, social media, a poster design contest, and more.

 
Riptides, California
Team: Christine, Erik, Erit, Jaewon, Zane, Tatiana, Megan, Adriel
Riptides and teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye determined that a native plant garden at their school would save nearly 340 gallons of water weekly compared to the campus's existing rose garden. They gathered more than 100 volunteers to help out...and presto! Additionally, they used advanced computer software to build a carbon-sequestering windmill and began work on a special carbon filter to reduce auto emissions.

 
Environmental Interconnectivity Team, California
Team: Wendy, Dorinda, Alexis, Rachel, Laura, Kristen
Teacher advisor David Nelson and his students saw the merit in informing their local community about solar energy and installing solar panels at the library. The Environmental Interconnectivity Team researched the relationship between climate change and solar energy extensively, holding teaching events, developing lesson plans, and using online outlets to spread the word. They're readying their proposal for solar panel installation at the town library. Good luck, team!

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

MIDDLE SCHOOL

project reservoir
 
Project Reservoir, New Jersey
Team
: Cristy, Sophia, Victoria, Jennifer, Ryan, Lexus
Teacher advisors Robert O'Donnell and Joel Naatus led their team, partnered with local schools and nonprofit groups, to reduce the mosquito population at the nearby reservoir. Aquaculture rooms were created to breed minnows and units were set aside to collect mosquito larvae. Soon the team limited the areas where mosquitoes could lay eggs, and guided fathead minnows to regularly feed off the insects' larvae—pretty yucky but really effective!

eco warriors
 
Eco-Warriors for the World, New Jersey
Team:
Sean, Zachary, Holly, Cruz, Julianna, Samantha, Jessica, Kara, Peyton, Raychel
The Eco-Warriors are disappointed with the amount of waste in their school cafeteria. Led by teacher advisor Tara Melchior, the students developed a composting program and will donate the compost to a local farm. They prevented 18 pounds of compostable material from heading daily to the landfill, and are looking to implement incentives and compost bins on campus.

can you hear me
 
Can You HEAR Me Now, Florida
Team:
Reha, Isabella, Kendal, Grace, Rebecca
More needs to be done in educating folks about improper battery disposal and its effects, so teacher advisor Debbie Viertel and her students fixated on reducing mercury in nearby landfills by collecting hearing aid batteries. The students used social media, partnered with local businesses, and visited nursing homes, stores, churches, and more to spread the word. They collected more than 1,000 used batteries for eco-friendly disposal!

pesticide
 
Pesticide Awareness Team, Florida
Team:
Emily, Jasmine, Megha, Shuming, Stefani
Pesticides are everywhere these days, and so are the associated dangers of using them. Teacher advisor Debbie Viertel and her team organized a "cardboard boat race" to help illuminate the hazards that pesticides present to our water and developed a reach-out initiative that enlightened more than 300 students!

eckh20
 

ECKH20 Preservers, Michigan
Team: Chris, Harmony, Emily, Tony, Samantha, Brian, Deshawn, Camei
For their project, teacher advisor June Teisan and her team furthered their interest in water quality and broadened the scope of it. After partnering with local researchers and scientists, the students introduced modern technology to four freshwater preserves to determine how polluted they are and what the actual pollutants are. They hope to expand their plan to two more bodies of water and share their research on water quality with the student body.

 
The Green Team, Iowa
Team:
Ashley, Rosa, Jaylen, Tiffany, Sadie
Recycle your handheld electronic devices, people! This is important! The Green Team knows that improper disposal of electronics is hazardous to the environment. With the guidance of teacher advisor Phoebe Pittman, the students organized and heavily promoted a community-wide "electronics recycling drive" to collect and recycle used devices and to get the word out.

 
R4E: Recycle for the Earth, Utah
Team:
Rebecca, Karoline, Josie, Heather, Hannah
Only about 25% of U.S.-produced plastic bottles are recycled, and teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and her team are taking action. With an extensive messaging campaign and bottle collection drive, the team amassed nearly 500 water bottles, and hope to install recycling bins around the city!

 
Kookaburras, Utah
Team:
Tyler, Olivia, Campbell, William, Talmage
The Kookaburras are birdhouse builders of the most noble kind! Teacher advisor JoAnne Brown and her students discovered that the birds native to their area are being "outpopulated" by a predatory European bird. The team built five birdhouses out of lumberyard scraps that would keep out predators and yield a bigger population of their native feathered friends.


HIGH SCHOOL

 
The Elymenators, New York
Team:
Joanna, Hannah, Sid, Aakriti, Rahul
Teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall and her team can't ignore the large amount of Lyme Disease cases reported in their community. They experimented, collected data, and learned more from ecologists at Vassar College. The students partnered with Cary Institute's field crew for research, distributed brochures about Lyme Disease, implemented a community pledge for people to learn about the disease, and more!

 
Conservation Nation, Massachusetts
Team:
Mindy, Mariel, Audrey, Lily, Debbie, Arluah, Emily, Victoria, Vivian, William
Conservation Nation and teacher advisor Cate Arnold hooked up with a number of
nonprofit organizations and local agencies to open their school community to the idea of composting and water conservation. The team had all of their school composting plans approved, conducted a school "water audit," and installed a drip irrigation and rainwater collection system in the campus's garden to save water!

 
Trophic Troopers, Florida
Team:
Chris, Josh, Eric, David, Zac
Led by teacher advisor Pamela Schlactman, the Trophic Troopers' project was twofold: water conservation and e-waste. The students employed a mass information campaign about water waste and organized a used electronic devices drive that yielded 560 cell phones and more than 200 ink cartridges! That's a lot of stuff!

 
Techletes, Florida
Team:
Nick, Jayson, Saran, Alexandra, Emil, Joseph
Recalling South Florida's 2006 mandatory water restrictions, The Techletes honed in on the importance of conservation. Guided by teacher advisor Robert Derrick, the students put together a test group pledge that encouraged the school community to consider and reduce its water usage. On average, the findings showed that 98 gallons of water per person were saved daily.
 
 
The Take Charge Team, Ohio
Team:
Liam, Noah, Alex, Max, Lilly, Cal, Andrew, Kelli
Teacher advisor Natalie Cooper and her team focused their efforts on a battery-recycling program to lessen the dependence on landfills and to increase awareness of battery disposal concerns. Their education initiative involved local media, public events, and more, but the battery-recycling operation was massive, yielding more than 4,700 batteries for proper disposal!

 
Honeysuckle Hunters, Missouri
Team:
Hannah, Erin, Maureen, Lexi, Madi, Meagan, Mandy
Getting familiar with an invasive plant species was the first step for the Honeysuckle Hunters' project. Teacher advisor Dianne Johnson and her students gathered and educated volunteers to help clear their school campus of an invasive species called Bush Honeysuckle and rehabilitate the affected areas with native plants, thereby improving the health of the area's ecosystem.

 
The Green Bandits, California
Team:
Annie, Manmeet, Andrew, Molly, Ricky, Kenzie
In the community where The Green Bandits live, the waste production per person is even higher than the national average. That's no good! So teacher advisor Kendra Grisnell and her team spearheaded a successful recycling and composting campaign. They collected about 600 plastic bottles and roughly 200 gallons of green waste—about 15 gallons of the latter daily. Beautiful!

 
The EcoNarcs, California
Team:
Alvin, Zachary, Bradley, Meleeneh, Linda, Ciria, Sylvie
Teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye and her team explored the toxic effects that pesticides have on an entire ecosystem, particularly when they're used by drug cartels in growing marijuana. The students mastered relevant software to collect data and partnered with the local sheriff's department to analyze water, soil, and vegetation for chemical exposure. Their awareness campaign is enlightening more than 27,000 students in their school district.

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