Congratulations to the middle school State Finalists of the 2011 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge! Click here to view the elementary and high school Finalists.
- Team NameTrophy Recycling Girls
- LocationSedona, AZ
- SchoolBig Park Community School
- Teacher/Mentor Bonny Smith
- Description After hearing that their school’s principal was throwing out old trophies due to lack of space, the Trophy Recycling Girls decided to figure out a way to recycle the old trophies. They determined that old trophies, with just an easy change of the name plaque, could be reused by local charities, sports' teams, and even their school. By reusing these 'almost new' trophies, new trophy purchases would decrease, saving energy and the environment. They connected with several local charities and found that they could donate the trophies to be used again. They involved their community to help too, by donating their old trophies and continue to receive donated trophies that they can recycle.
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- Team NameSustain
- LocationFremont, CA
- SchoolOlive Children Foundation
- Teacher/MentorQuin Ti
- Description The goal of this project was to eliminate or decrease the unnecessary and overuse of the antimicrobial triclosan in consumer products, such as hand soap, which has given rise to antibiotic-resistant super bacteria. The students researched the problem and conducted a survey to find out the number of household in their community using antibacterial hand soap. A lab from the University of California-SF donated equipment for the students to conduct an experiment testing antibacterial soap vs. non-antibacterial soap. Their results indicated that the antibacterial soap was just as effective at eliminating bacterial development as the regular soap. They presented their findings to peers during science classes and a school assembly, distributed posters and flyers in their community and held two seminars to inform the public and decrease the community’s overuse of antibacterial hand soaps.
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- Team NameShuttle Bugs
- LocationEstes Park, CO
- School Estes Park Middle School
- Teacher/Mentor Jennifer Taylor
- Description The Shuttle Bugs’ Summer Shuttle Solution project responded to a local need to reduce traffic and car emissions. The students wanted to improve their town’s summer shuttle service to decrease the number of cars driven by the 3 million tourists visiting the nearby Rock Mountain Park each summer. The team received permission from the superintendent to utilize the school’s unused parking lot to increase available shuttles. They brought in guest speakers from NOAA and raised awareness in their school and community by writing PSAs their school announcements and presenting their project to their town’s committee and School Board. They also ran a school campaign, “1$ = 1 Tree = 1 Planet”, to raise money for replanting the Atlantic Rainforest in South America. Each dollar they raised equaled one tree planted by the Nature Conservancy. Lastly, they built partnerships between the town’s Transportation Visioning Committee and the School District to tackle and solve a local problem with traffic and carbon dioxide emissions in Estes Park.
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- Team Name CHIL
- LocationGreenwich, CT
- SchoolConvent of the Sacred Heart
- Teacher/Mentor Carol Vergilis
- Description The group chose to tackle the problem of water conservation in their school community after noticing how much water was being wasted, particularly by inefficient water appliances. The team surveyed their peers’ about water waste to gauge their knowledge and habits in regards to water use. They informed others by creating posters and presentation for the school and sending a note home to parents. Peers were encouraged to purchase more efficient reusable water bottles, which they now sell at the school store. The team also worked to outfit the sink faucets in the school with more water-efficient aerators and equip the eligible toilets with HydroRight Drop-In Flush Converters to reduce water waste. They continue to increase awareness of the problem and encourage the community to follow practices to reduce water waste in their daily lives.
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- Team NameEco-friendly
- LocationLakeland, FL
- SchoolLawton Chiles Middle School
- Teacher/MentorRavinder Pasumarthi
- Description Team Eco-friendly learned that many industries discharge their wastewater directly into water bodies in the U.S., resulting in large amounts of organic nutrients like nitrogen which help certain kinds of dominant algae take over native species and cause an eco-imbalance. Many industries choose not to send their wastewater to the wastewater management plant for organic nutrient removal because of the high cost. The team researched and created an economical and indigenous filter that reduced the nitrogen content by 48.7% and phosphorus content by 69.7% from the industrial wastewater samples. The team is working with EPA to further review their filter and get it approved for use and to create a new standard to filter pollutants at the source and mandate its usage. They are also approaching local companies to discuss the benefits of filtering the industrial wastewater using their filter. By using their filter, companies increase sustainability, save money, help the environment and help ensure that future generations have cleaner water to consume.
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- Team NameGreen Girls
- Location Cumming, GA
- SchoolLakeside Middle School
- Teacher/Mentor Patti Grammens
- Description Team Green Girls noticed that, in their community, they could only recycle plastic with certain RICs because there were not enough resources to recycle all types of plastic. They wanted their community to be able to recycle all types of plastic. They researched the problem and surveyed community members to find that about half of the people would recycle more if they had more opportunities. The team distributed a newsletter and had people sign a petition. They collected an overwhelming number of signatures and planned to send the petition to the county government. They continue to work on the project and hope that the solution can be replicated in other communities across the country.
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- Team Name 6000 n 60
- LocationKapaau, HI
- SchoolKohala Middle School
- Teacher/MentorLani Bowman
- Description This team chose to focus on the disposal of household batteries, as there were no local opportunities to recycle them. 6000 n 60 predicted if they gave people local opportunities to recycle batteries, provided information on environmental harm and provided tips on how to better use batteries, their community would become more conscientious in their use and disposal of batteries. The team developed “6000 n 60,” a household battery recycling effort to collect 6,000 batteries in 60 days. They distributed pre- and post-surveys to gauge community awareness on the issue. The team designed their own logo and created t-shirts as well as distributed promotional materials to raise awareness and increase participation in the effort. In addition, the team involved the school and community through school bulletins, assemblies, posters, PSAs, presentations to local organizations, a community kickoff event, a Facebook page and guest speakers. They also set out bins to collect batteries. 6000 n 60 met their goal of collecting 6,000 batteries and the team is using their data to lobby the country for better battery recycling opportunities. The group also intends to speak to their state representative about state involvement as battery recycling is an issue state, nation and worldwide.
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- Team NameInvasive Species 3A
- Location Caldwell, ID
- SchoolVision Charter School
- Teacher/Mentor Jason George
- Description After learning about the impact of invasive species, the team decided to focus their project on the management of the wolf population, who were introduced in the state in 1995. The students researched the issue and discovered that there were mixed opinions on whether the expanding wolf population was detrimental. They wanted to inform the community of the issue so they presented their information in a blog and at a science night at their school. They also contacted local agencies. They found that there are so many different sides to this issue, but they key is proper information to and education of the public.
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- Team Name Environmental Cheeseburgerz
- Location Lombard, IL
- School Glenn Westlake Middle School
- Teacher/MentorAmber Quirk
- Description The team members of Environmental Cheeseburgerz were very concerned about the amount of plastic being wasted, so they chose to try and reduce the amount of plastic being deposited into landfills by dry erase markers. They conducted a poll of teachers in their school and estimated that over 5,000 dry erase markers are used in their school each year. Their solution was to design a calligraphy-style prototype of a dry erase marker that is more efficient and environmentally-friendly. They continue to improve their design and hope to work with a larger company to produce the new markers. They believe teachers, businesses and households all across the globe could benefit from a marker that is better for the environment.
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- Team Name Alpha Eliminators
- LocationWest Branch, IA
- SchoolPrairie Creek Intermediate School
- Teacher/Mentor Hector Ibarra
- Description After discovering that their state has the highest percentage of homes in the United States over the EPA-recommended mitigation level, the Alpha Eliminators selected the topic of radon awareness, testing and mitigation. The team’s action plan focused on assessing public knowledge through a questionnaire and testing homes and buildings around the community. The team educated community members and legislators about hazards and health risks associated with radon gas entering homes in the community. They also held meetings with the Home Builders Association and tested more than 70 homes for radon gas. They discovered that most people knew little about radon and, through their campaign, awareness increased significantly. They presented to legislators and worked with them to craft a bill to require inclusion of passive radon mitigation systems in homes under construction. If passed, the bill will legalize the sale of electronic radon meters in Iowa.
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- Team NameGlitterbugs
- Location Bardstown, KY
- School St. Joseph School
- Teacher/Mentor Valerie Brooks
- Description The Glitterbugs were disturbed by the amount of litter in their community so they chose to clean up the roads and inform the public of the importance of the proper disposal of waste. The team researched the topic and found out about the great amount of litter created by little things like cigarette butts and fast food wrappers. They also learned about the air and water pollution that is created by the waste. The team worked together to clean up several roads in their community, collecting data to measure success. They also worked to inform the community about the issue using flyers and posters. Additionally, they are working with local retailers to clean up the community further and are encouraging others to spread the word on the importance of reducing waste and litter.
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- Team Name Atlantic White Cedar Restoration
- Location Hanover, MD
- School Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School
- Teacher/Mentor Jane Andraka
- Description This team learned about the disappearance of the Atlantic White Cedar and wanted to raise awareness of the trees’ importance and help restore them to the wetlands to help improve water quality, provide habitat to native species of animals and birds, stabilize wetlands and increase numbers of this historically important tree. The team researched how best to grow Atlantic White Cedar trees for restoration projects. They created a Facebook page and database to share how to grow the trees and how to get involved. They also studied the knowledge of students in environment clubs/other clubs, public living near historic Atlantic White Cedar sites and public officials before and after Atlantic White Cedar education. Team Atlantic White Cedar Restoration has been recognized by the Maryland State Senate and the Anne Arundel County Council for their efforts to educate people about Atlantic White Cedars not only in Maryland, but in states from Maine to Louisiana. They also created a website to share their database and information about this historic native tree and gave presentations to government officials, schools, Boy Scout troops and the public.
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- Team NamePhantom Slayers
- LocationActon, MA
- SchoolRaymond J. Grey Junior High School
- Teacher/MentorSumana Bhat
- Description Team Phantom Slayers’ project focused on reducing the electricity wasted by phantom load and vampire electronics. Phantom load is energy wasted when an electronic device is in standby mode, or "off", but still plugged into the outlet and consuming power. They wanted to educate their school and community about this subtle yet significant energy drain as well as urge community leaders to institute policies that can reduce phantom load. The team distributed surveys, a pledge and brochures to raise awareness. They also utilized the school’s morning announcements and newsletter to get their school involved. The team conducted experiments to measure energy waste and raised awareness by presenting their findings to several community groups, including households and schools. They met with the EPA to help them request expansion of the Energy Star label to include phantom load. The team also convinced a Massachusetts State Senator to file a bill aimed at reducing phantom load.
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- Team NameThe Boggers
- LocationBerrien Springs, MI
- School Berrien Springs School, Home School Partnership
- Teacher/Mentor Beth Denton
- Description This team focused their project on the protection of local wetlands, particularly bogs, after their class “adopted” a local treasure, Mud Lake Bog. The Boggers worked to create an awareness campaign about the bog and the purpose of wetlands after learning that wetlands are essential to water quality, provide habitat, and offer flood control. They discovered that the bog had been unprotected due to lack of awareness and that the ecosystem was being threatened by an invasive species, the Glossy Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula). The team ran an awareness campaign that included newspaper articles, blogs and a Facebook page. They also presented to groups of students in their school to raise awareness and conducted experiments to measure the effects of the Glossy Buckthorn. They hoped through this project that the students would become aware of the bog itself, and wetlands in general. The Boggers was and continues to be successful in raising the level of awareness in the community and have made great contributions to making their community an even more beautiful place.
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- Team NameCHARGERS
- LocationSouthaven, MS
- School Southaven Middle School
- Teacher/Mentor Richard Campbell
- Description This team wanted to create an outdoor “green” lab to foster hands-on learning and environmental awareness in their backyard. They discovered that their school had several acres available where they could establish a nature area to foster ecosystem stewardship by providing a natural laboratory and infrastructure for education, research, service and cultivate scientific inquiry. The park is a cooperative effort of Southaven Middle School faculty, staff, administrators, students, concerned citizens, local businesses and environmental groups. After selecting the area, the team worked together to construct bird houses and paths using recycled materials. They hope to partner with the Audubon Society to record and monitor hummingbird migration. While the project is ongoing, the community continues to support the development of the area as they create a place for hands-on science education.
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- Team NameJus' Recycle
- Location Great Falls, MT
- SchoolOur Lady of Lourdes School
- Teacher/Mentor Kerry VanderKolk
- Description Team Jus’ Recycle was concerned about the lack of awareness around the importance of and opportunities for recycling in their community. They conducted research on the recycling options available in their community and began by surveying their local school community to find out if people recycled. They worked with their local facilities to determine what they can recycle, where, and when, and created and distributed pamphlets to educate their community. Following the campaign, Jus’ Recycle distributed a second survey, from which they were excited to see that the overall awareness and recycling habits had improved significantly. The team followed up by contacting their mayor to raise awareness and are working with local businesses to identify more outlets for recycling in their community.
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- Team NameBay Savers
- Location Manahawkin, NJ
- School All Saints Regional Catholic School
- Teacher/MentorStephen Kubricki
- DescriptionAfter their area experienced a significant increase in housing developments, the team learned that the nearby watershed and wetlands of Barnegat Bay, one of New Jersey’s most important natural resources, were in danger. Overpopulation of the area has led to a variety of problems such as eutrophication, which is killing the sea grass and the marine life. Polluted runoff is decreasing water quality and for the destruction of the area means loss of habitat for wildlife. In addition to performing the typical internet search, library review, experiments and conducting interviews with experts in the field. The team has also engaged in a cross-country comparison with a group of students from Whiteface, Texas who is working on a similar solving a problem in the Playa Lakes region of Texas. By sharing work and ideas, they were able extend their research efforts. The team identified seven action initiatives and conducted detailed experiments to determine the sources of detriment to the bay and possible solutions. The students spread the word by presenting to their school community and working with local environmental groups. Their vision is to mobilize and energize, to excite and involve and to show everyone in their community that anyone can take part in the efforts to restore the health of the estuary.
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- Team Name My New Water Bottle
- LocationMassapequa Park, NY
- SchoolBirch Lane Elementary School
- Teacher/MentorBrian Mulcahy
- Description Team My New Water Bottle wanted to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles in their school because of the detrimental effects of the disposal of plastic on the environment. Students conducted research on the issue using the internet, books, teachers and fellow students. After surveying students and teachers, the team created a website to educate others on the reducing the use of plastic water bottles, presented to classes of their peers, sent letters home to parents and distributed posters and flyers. They even coordinated the sale of reusable water bottles at their school and sold over 600! Since the campaign, the use of plastic water bottles has significantly decreased in their school and overall awareness and efforts to reduce plastic waste have improved.
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- Team Name Junior Win Team
- LocationWesterly, RI
- School Westerly Middle School
- Teacher/MentorJason Lin
- Description This team’s project focused on reducing greenhouse gas production through the use of bio-fuel. The students conducted research by distributing a survey, visiting local biodiesel manufacturers and distributors, interviewing local businesses, and using the Internet and set out to establish a waste cooking oil collection network to efficiently collect WCO from restaurants and residents and raise awareness of using alternative energy. They conducted experiments on the refining process of the oil and met with four local charities and the biodiesel delivery company Guardian Fuel to develop a plan of action. Additionally, they raised awareness by distributing flyers and calendars to schools and the public, advertised in the local newspaper and radio station, and presented to schools, businesses and local governments. They visited over 500 restaurants to ask them to participate. The project has collected over 75,000 gallons of WCO and generated 60,000 gallons of biodiesel. The team distributed over 9,200 gallons of biofuel to 92 families who needed emergency heating assistance and eight public WCO recycling locations have been established in the nearby communities. The team continues to work with local and state governments to change legislation and increase the use of WCO as biodiesel.
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- Team NameGreen Clean
- LocationFranklin, TN
- SchoolFreedom Intermediate School
- Teacher/Mentor Barbara Orr
- Description The Green Clean project focused on the idea of removing chemicals from our lives. The team started with the cleaning products in their school. They conducted a survey of the building by asking teachers to see what was being used to clean. They learned about a cleaning device that would clean hard surfaces through the ionization of tap water. The students completed an experiment to test where germs were located in the building and if the chemical-free cleaning method would remove the germs as well as a traditional cleaner. They discovered many areas of germs in the school building, but were pleased to discover that the ionized water process greatly reduced the amount of germs on the chairs, tables and water fountains throughout the school. They presented their findings to the director of the maintenance department who was so impressed with the ionization device that he is planning to purchase them for the custodial staff next year. The team is now working to get the device for cleaning the cafeteria tables and one for each homeroom teachers so that they will be able to clean the desks, chairs and whiteboards without chemicals in the classrooms. They hope the school will be a model for the community that it is possible to clean without chemicals.
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- Team Name DR.MED
- Location San Antonio, TX
- School Nimitz Middle School
- Teacher/MentorSandra Geisbush
- Description The participants on Team DR.MED (Deterrence Regarding Medication in Environmental Devastation) identified a problem that was central to their community and focused on the improper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals in their community. Students researched the issue and uncovered the detrimental effects on the environment, including chemical pollution’s effect on water quality, which results from the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals. The team conducted a survey to evaluate the awareness of the issue within their community,followed by conducting experiments to analyze the effects of improper pharmaceutical disposal on soil and groundwater. The group has shared their findings with several groups in the community to raise awareness. They also met with the San Antonio City Council to create legislation to better control the disposal of pharmaceuticals. The team will continue to work to eradicate misconceptions of medication disposal and raise awareness on proper disposal.
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- Team Name Sustainability is Our Mission (S.O.M.)
- LocationJericho, VT
- SchoolBrowns River Middle School
- Teacher/MentorPatty Brushett
- Description Team S.O.M focused their project on energy efficient lighting at their school. When the 35-year-old parking lot lights began to malfunction at their school, S.O.M. students compared the cost of replacing the lighting with renewable clean solar powered lights with the cost of digging up the parking lot to rewire the existing lights. The team conducted research in order to determine the most optimal setup for the lights by visiting various parking lots and collecting data on their lighting systems. Once they determined the most efficient lighting, they talked to lighting designers, who helped them create a blueprint for the proposed parking lot design. The design was recently approved and the lighting will be installed in the summer of 2011. The new lighting will not only help save the school money and ensure the safety of those in the parking lot at night, but will also save energy and serve as an eco-friendly lighting model for schools in other communities.
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- Team Name Sterile Over Stagnant
- Location Vienna, VA
- School Joyce Kilmer Middle School
- Teacher/MentorSusan Bates
- Description This team sought to increase public awareness on the dangers of stagnant water. When water sits stagnant, debris easily accumulates, making the water algae covered and/or putting it into a foul smelling state, and also putting those around it at risk for certain diseases. They noticed that there were many bodies of water in their community plagued by stagnant water. The team conducted extensive research to uncover solutions to prevent stagnant water, such as incorporating a waterfall or fountain and used their local create to experiment. They focused their experiment on analyzing the effectiveness of different aerating devices in preventing water from stagnating. Through word of mouth and Facebook page, the students spread the word on the effectiveness of their solution, which even resulted in many local neighborhoods adjusting their budgets to combat this problem.
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- Team NameWALL-e
- LocationMarshfield, WI
- SchoolMarshfield Middle School
- Teacher/Mentor Darlene Berry
- Description After noticing that many students were not using the recycling bins at lunch, team WALL-E was determined to increase recycling at their school and reduce overall waste. The students formed the team WALL-E, Waste Allocator Lunch/Locker Looking Environmentalists, and set up a system to monitor the garbage and recycle bins during lunch time and locker cleanout to encourage fellow students to recycle. The Team surveyed their peers about recycling habits and shared their results and plan with faculty. They institute drives to recycle cell phones, CFL lightbulbs, batteries, and ink cartridges and the cafeteria has since switched to Birchware, 100% biodegradable tableware. Their project reduced waste to landfills significantly within 42 days and they shared their results at a community-wide energy event. They hope other students will form green teams in their school to promote recycling efforts.
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