The Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have announced the grand prize winners of this year's Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. The national Challenge encourages elementary and middle school students to develop plans to initiate environmental change in their schools and communities.
More than 13,000 students competed in this year's Challenge across elementary and middle school grades. Elementary classrooms, under the mentorship of their teacher, identified an environmental issue in their classroom or school, while middle school students worked in teams of 2-4 students, also under the guidance of a mentor, to identify an environmental issue in their community. Both levels then researched their issue using scientific investigation and created a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education.
Projects ranged from reducing lunchtime waste to saving local trees and encouraging eco-friendly gardens. A panel of environmental advocates and science educators selected winners based on the team's ability to create a positive, measurable solution to a local environmental problem and how well it can be replicated by other communities.
Middle School Winners:
Grand Prize Winners: Team "No1Idling" from Novi, Mich.
- Novi Middle School students Raj Raina and Yash Sathe, along with mentor Abhinav Raina, focused on reducing community pollution by raising awareness about the environmental impact of vehicle idling among area drivers.
Second Place Winners: Team "Drug Disposal Informants" from West Branch, Iowa
- West Branch Middle School students Kara Fountain, Allison Kusick, Gabby Salemink, and Megan Tadlock, along with mentor Hector Ibarra, focused on reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals polluting local water by encouraging the proper disposal of medications.
Third Place Winners: Team "Lex Green Clean" from Lexington, Mass.
- Jonas Clarke Middle School students Rani Iyer and Isha Laad, along with mentor Vidhya Iyer, encouraged their community to adopt a more eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning, called wet cleaning, to reduce the use of toxic chemicals.
Elementary School Winners Grades 3-5:
Grand Prize Winners: Team "Planet Blue and Green" from Watsonville, Calif.
- Mount Madonna School's fifth grade class and their teacher, Jessica Cambell, limited the consumption of non-biodegradable materials as a means to reduce marine debris.
Second Place Winners: Team "Joberts5" from Bloomfield Township, Mich.
- Birmingham Covington School's fifth grade class and their teacher, Pauline Roberts, focused on reducing the amount of trash generated during school lunch.
Third Place Winners: Team "Green Allowance" from Glendale, Calif.
- Mark Keppel Elementary School's fifth grade class and their teacher, April Faieta, taught other students how to save as much energy and water as possible by using an interactive website.
Elementary School Winners Grades K-2:
Grand Prize Winners: Team "Zero Waste Lunch Experts" from Addison, Ill.
- St. Philip the Apostle School's second grade class and their teacher, Amanda Wallace, focused on reducing the amount of waste created each day during school lunches.
Second Place Winners: Team "Hunter EcoHeroes" from Raleigh, N.C.
- Representatives from Hunter Elementary School's kindergarten, first and second grade classes and their teacher, Smith Raynor, helped reduce waste in the cafeteria and make recycling a habit in their school.
Third Place Winners: Team "LAA2" from Lakeland, Fla.
- Lincoln Avenue Academy's second grade class and their teacher, Mijana Lockard, decreased the amount of water waste created by students at their school.
The middle school grand prize winners will receive a comprehensive prize package, which includes a $10,000 Savings Bond, an appearance on Planet Green (the 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network), a chance to present their program at the United Nations, and a Discovery Adventure trip to Yellowstone National Park. The elementary school grand prize winning classrooms will receive an on-site video shoot of the class that will be turned into a commercial to run on one of Discovery's networks, a $5,000 grant for their school, and an opportunity to be featured on a jumbotron in Times Square in New York City.
In addition to the above, each team's advisor will receive free registration and hotel accommodations at an upcoming NSTA national or area conference, a one-year membership to NSTA and a 12-month subscription to Discovery Education Science digital content library.
The Challenge expands to high schools in Fall 2010. Currently teams can register and start tackling a global energy-related issue. Starting on August 17, 2010, teams can enter their progress and complete their online applications. For more information on the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, go to www.wecanchange.com.
Source: Siemens Foundation, www.siemens-foundation.org