Elementary School

2012 Elementary School Finalists

Congratulations to the elementary school Finalists of the 2012 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge! Click here to view the middle and high school Finalists.

California

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Buena Vista Elementary
  • Location Walnut Creek, CA
  • School Buena Vista Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Kari Stewart
  • DescriptionAfter learning about zero waste, Team Buena Vista Elementary noticed the amounts of waste created at their school during lunchtime. They decided to quantify the problem and then created a plan to lower the food waste at their school.

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California

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Give a Hoot!
  • Location Watsonville, CA
  • School Mount Madonna School
  • Teacher/Mentor Jessica Cambell
  • DescriptionGive A Hoot is a student-driven, integrated curriculum project based on environmental threats to the Western Burrowing Owl. Students conducted habitat restoration, environmental clean-up, educational docent binders and signs. They conducted scientific experiments to discover how native plants benefit this owl, and how it reciprocates. Based on their findings, students wrote, directed and produced an educational film that has and will be shown in many venues dramatically illustrating what could happen if people don’t consider protecting this owl. Donations from their work will be invested in local conservation groups to further their work to protect habitat and in Kiva.org, a micro-loan organization that brokers small loans to help subsistence people purchase tools, supplies and equipment.

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Colorado

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Wasabi
  • Location Wellington, CO
  • School Rice Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Lisa Steketee
  • DescriptionThe goal of team WASABI was to continue to educate students, staff and families about properly sorting lunch left overs into the available landfill, recycling, hot composting and vermipost options at their school. They created WASABI masters (like Yoda) who teach and monitor what the children do in the lunchroom. Even their head custodian has gotten in on the act as Albi wan Recycle. They also created a video for the teachers on how their light system works encouraging them to use as little electricity for lighting as possible.

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Florida

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Energy Patrol
  • Location Lakeland, FL
  • School Lincoln Avenue Academy
  • Teacher/Mentor Mijana Lockard
  • DescriptionTeam Energy Patrol’s energy bill was sky-high! Team members were challenged to identify sources of energy waste and develop solutions to conserve energy school wide. Using a variety of sources, as well as data collected during school patrol, team members identified air conditioners and computers as the main energy wasters. Students formed an energy patrol to help teachers and classes change behaviors by setting air conditioners on no lower than 72 degrees and making sure that all computers are asleep or off when not in use. After three months of patrolling, they noticed significant changes in behavior and their energy bill!

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Florida

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Team E-Waste Awareness
  • Location New Port Richey, FL
  • School Deer Park Elementary
  • Teacher/Mentor Cheryl Gendebien (Collaborator: Alondra Woodall)
  • DescriptionThe goal of team E-Waste Awareness was to build awareness amongst the students, staff and parents of Deer Park Elementary, as well as the surrounding local community about the hazards of electronic waste, and to encourage them to recycle and dispose of this waste responsibly. The students went on the morning announcements, made posters, created family collages, PowerPoints, videos, stories, poems and fliers to inform the school and public about E-Waste. They held an E-Waste drive where they collected 400 pieces of electronics.

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Florida

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Apollo Eco-Eagles
  • Location Titusville, FL
  • School Apollo Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Mirtha Howard
  • DescriptionThe Zero to Hero project is a continuation of a recycling effort at Apollo Elementary started last school year. Students, inspired by last year’s team, created videos supporting their recycling efforts and a puppet show. They participated in virtual labs and researched the Agents of Change, which they then used to create posters featuring Aja, Cirrus, Thera and Tyhpoon to teach others about recycling. To increase the amount of plastic and milk cartons being recycled, team members held a fundraiser and bought a flingsbin, a trash receptacle made from recycled materials, which they placed in teacher’s pods to collect plastic and milk cartons. The result was an 86% increase in plastic and milk cartons while paper recycling also increased by 32%.

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Georgia

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Diamond Detectives
  • Location Cumming, GA
  • School Coal Mountain Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Denise Webb
  • DescriptionThe students on the Diamond Detectives Team were concerned with the amount of food that is thrown away each day in their lunchroom at school. They wanted to know if there was any way they could recycle this food. To answer that question, they researched what foods can be recycled and the types of containers that we could use. They had experts come in and teach us about recycling and we had two composters donated to our program. This program was so successful that we outgrew our containers and will be expanding to make more composting containers this summer. The composting will be used in a new gardening program starting next year and the Composting ReFood program will be used school wide.

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Hawaii

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name St. Joseph Hilo 1 & 2
  • Location Hilo, HI
  • School Saint Joseph Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Ingrid Moreau
  • DescriptionStudents wanted to reduce the amount of food waste created during lunch at St. Joseph’s. The students made an awareness poster in which they measured the height of the food waste created. They spoke to the entire school body and recruited their help. With the help of other classrooms, students collected the food waste and began a composting pile. The students were able to reduce food waste by an average of 5cm.

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Illinois

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Najma Precyclers
  • Location Naperville, IL
  • School Kindi Academy
  • Teacher/Mentor Victoria Marks
  • DescriptionThe Precyclers conducted an experiment to see if teaching parents, students and teachers about recycling and precycling would result in a reduction of lunch-time waste. They found that education resulted in a significant reduction in lunchtime waste.

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Indiana

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Wessel's Wonders
  • Location Kokomo, IN
  • School Acacia Academy
  • Teacher/Mentor Betsy Hoshaw
  • DescriptionThe students of Wessel’s Wonders began with a desire to do something environmentally helpful for their community. They learned about water supply, usage and wastewater, then learned lab techniques about filtering material. The project consisted of making large coffee grounds filters and placing them into water gardens to filter storm water before it goes into their local creek.

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Kansas

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name STARS 3-5 Green Team
  • Location Stafford, KS
  • School STARS After School
  • Teacher/Mentor Sharilyn McNickle
  • DescriptionStudents formed a green team that meets weekly to learn about recycling and “living green” projects. They provided the schools’ classrooms with recycling bins to collect paper, cardboard, magazines and newspaper. Plastic bottle and aluminum can collection barrels were placed near vending machines. Students collected the recycling, weighed, recorded and transported it to the community’s recycling trailer weekly. 900lbs was collected in the school over a 6 month period. The community’s recycling trailer was moved to the school during a special community challenge week and over 1 ton of recycling was collected. The team had the schools’ welding class build an aluminum can collection cage, “We’ve Got Plans for Your Cans”, to collect and recycle aluminum cans in the community.

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Kentucky

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Centerfield Energy Team
  • Location Crestwood, KY
  • School Centerfield Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Jennifer Forseth
  • DescriptionThe Centerfield Energy Team raised awareness of simple ways to save energy in their school community. They met every Friday to help teachers learn how to save energy by “shutting down” their classrooms and held an Energy Carnival that had over 200 people in attendance!

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Massachusetts

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Mrs. Dorer's Explorers
  • Location Bedford, MA
  • School Lt Job Lane Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Sarah Dorer
  • DescriptionThe goal of Mrs. Dorer’s Explorers’ project was the help the students and staff at their K-2 school reduce electricity consumption. After meeting with the Director of Facilities for the town, they embarked on a successful campaign to: 1) turn lights off when leaving the classroom, 2) turn off all computers at the end of the day and 3) use normal pencil sharpeners whenever possible.

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Maryland

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Second Grade Science Club
  • Location Chevy Chase, MD
  • School Concord Hill School
  • Teacher/Mentor Tracy Yaffe
  • DescriptionAfter learning about living on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Team 2nd Grade Science Club decided to reduce water run-off from their school campus to reduce any pollutants in their run-off and reduce the wasting of clean water at their school. The students did careful observations of the school site and the school building, noting that new trashcans with lids were needed, that there were major leaks in their gutters and that many of their water fixtures were leaking. As a result of the student’s observations, the problems at their school have been fixed. The team also planned the instillation of a rain barrel and a rain garden to clean their water run-off before it enters the local culvert. Finally, the students taught the rest of their school what they had learned in an interactive, demonstration-rich assembly.

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Michigan

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Green It Up!
  • Location Northville, MI
  • School Amerman Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Khris Nedam
  • DescriptionThe primary goal of Team Green It Up was to find a way to make their school more green. They decided on a green roof to conserve energy, reduce gray water, and create a space to grow edible plats, saffron, and for birds to land. They also decided to compost lunch waste to reduce their school garbage and produce nutritious soil for the green roof trays. They were able to reduce lunch waste by 7lbs. a day and are in the process of raising funds for the green roof and planting seeds to have plants for the green roof trays.

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Mississippi

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name EcoSeekers
  • Location Columbus, MS
  • School Stokes Beard Magnet School
  • Teacher/Mentor Emma Cornwall
  • DescriptionDuring the prior year, students on Team Ecoseekers completed a recycling unit. Without hesitation the students unanimously decided that their school uses too much Styrofoam and plastic. Their school, as well as others in the district, serve both breakfast and lunch daily on Styrofoam trays with little plastic utensils and cups to hold sauces, fruit, and other food products. The class knew they could dramatically impact the amount of Styrofoam and plastic disposed of by their school as well as the whole district. The students collected and analyzed data to determine who much their school could save in expenses if they were to use reusable trays and silverware and estimated that over $30,000 could be saved at their school alone.

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Missouri

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Waste Warriors
  • Location Saint Clair, MS
  • School Edgar Murray Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Jennifer Hawkins
  • DescriptionThe Waste Warriors’ mission was to work together as a team to fight against waste in their school cafeteria. After collecting data, the team discovered that their school alone throws away 42,490 pounds of trash away in just one school year. Their goal is to train their peers to use a portable waste collection system to sort recyclable, reusable and compostable items. Students will continue to work together on the program and have are also invested in the school’s composting station, for which they use food scraps that would have otherwise been throw into a landfill.

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North Carolina

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Pinewood Environmentalists
  • Location Charlotte, NC
  • School Pinewood Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Kimberly Schafer
  • DescriptionStudents on Team Pinewood Environmentalists identified a need for water conservation in watering their school’s 28 gardens. Based on their research and collaboration with community partners, they now have rain barrels to collect rainwater from the school’s roof, more barrels serving as holding tanks and a drip irrigation system throughout all of the gardens. They have a solar-powered pump which they use to run water through the irrigation system allowing their school to conserve tons of water while keeping their garden healthy and hydrated.

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North Carolina

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Mrs Council's GoGreenGo
  • Location Charlotte, NC
  • School Selwyn Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Jody Council
  • DescriptionTeam Mrs. Council’s Go Green Go began their project by collecting tumbled glass – over 300 pieces in less than four hours! They then brainstormed on sustainability projects and produced One Small Step – a cement garden step and explorer kit idea. To improve their impact the class chose Charlotte’s Clear and Green Festival to sell their kits and donated their proceeds to the local parks and recreation.

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North Carolina

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Williams' Science Class
  • Location Charlotte, NC
  • School Polo Ridge Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor LaNay Williams
  • DescriptionStudents of Williams' Science Class took on the challenge of educating their student body about how much food they were wasting during their school lunch periods and how this waste effects and harms the environment. Students began collecting food scraps form the cafeteria, and began a composting program, which now provides compost for their school garden.

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North Carolina

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Mrs. Ward's Class
  • Location Raleigh, NC
  • School Underwood Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Ashely Ward
  • DescriptionWith the help of their Eco-Warrior pen pals in New Zealand, Mrs. Ward’s Class decided to promote and host a Nude Food Week at their school. Students formed five groups to write letters to inform local and federal leaders, parents and community members. They team also created a skit for their school announcements, presentations for each class and advertisements, which they placed throughout their school to promote their event. Nude Food Week was a hit school wide and continues to promote composting and reduce waste.

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New Jersey

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Water Whisperers
  • Location Milford, NJ
  • School Holland Township Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Stephanie Bacskai
  • DescriptionThe Water Whisperers wanted to become advocates for the environmental and personal benefits of drinking tap water instead of plastic water bottles. Through an inventory, digital class surveys, and multiple interviews, they identified that their school’s students could improve in “reusing” drinking containers or canteens. Their school has substantial drinking water access, so “kid-friendly”, water awareness signs were posted by all water fountains. They successfully educated all students through an action mural and student signature board for their school’s “Raise Your Canteen!” day during Green Week.

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New Jersey

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Green Team
  • Location Randolph, NJ
  • School Fernbrook Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Jenise Janulis
  • DescriptionGreen Team students learned about environmental issues and decided that they wanted to be agents of change. First, they became aware of how desperately people need to recycle in their country to limit what goes to landfills and to conserve resources. They then developed a plan to raise awareness throughout their whole school; now everyone participates in the recycling of paper, plastic and juice pouches. Additionally, all grades began collecting vegetable and fruit scraps for composting and are making rich soil to plant in. They held a “clean the courtyard” day, learned about water conservation from the Americorps Water Shed Ambassador of Morris County and completed a project with the Philadelphia Zoo about the plight of the orangutans due to deforestation for palm oil. Students created environmental awareness posters, a large hallway display and presentations to the whole school using “Learn from the Lorax” as a theme. They calculated the total amount that was recycled this year, thanks to their program, was 7,782lbs.

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New York

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name The Creative Crayon Recyclers
  • Location Suffern, NY
  • School Montebello Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Bianca Tanis
  • DescriptionWhen it was time for students to throw away their old, broken crayons, they saw an opportunity to affect a positive impact on their environment. Students designed, implemented and documented a crayon recycling drive. They conducted research to gauge the scope of the problem by surveying every classroom and read books about recycling and the impact of our growing landfills. Students visited classrooms, created posters and narrated a photo story project to advertise the crayon drive. They then collected used crayons from the entire school and in one week, they saved 16 pounds of crayons from landfills by recycling them into new crayons. It is projected that if expanded to the entire district, Creative Crayon’s program can recycle 160 pounds of crayons annually.

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Ohio

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Gilmour Gforce
  • Location Gates Mills, OH
  • School Gilmour Academy
  • Teacher/Mentor Kim Moore (Collaborator: Lynne Sojda)
  • DescriptionTeam Gilmour Gforce chose their project after researching topics of interest on the We Can Change the World website. They decided that trying to save energy at their school would help reduce their community’s use of fossil fuels and help prevent global warming. The students collected data on their school’s energy usage and used that information to decide which initiatives they wanted to start. Students decided to create posters, brochures, graphs, videos and power point presentations to help educate their community on how they can save energy. They have become energy conservation experts and activists as a result of their initiatives.

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Oregon

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Grizzly Composters
  • Location Salem, OR
  • School Grant Community School
  • Teacher/Mentor Sunshine Price
  • DescriptionTeam Grizzly Composters conducted a trash audit and discovered that 94.7% of waste came from their school cafeteria. They then went on several expeditions to learn more about waste management from experts. In order to reduce the amount of waste, they decided to start a composting program, which would help reduce dangerous methane gas in their atmosphere. They began by building their own compost bins out of recycled materials and then designed a school-wide program to compost in the cafeteria and inside classrooms. First, they held an all-school assembly to teach kids about the importance of composting; next, they conducted classroom presentations and made movies to explain the process of composting. The program was so successful that they were able to reduce waste from their cafeteria by 73%!

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Texas

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Doolittle
  • Location Snyder, TX
  • School Snyder Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Carolyn Torres
  • DescriptionThe students were concerned that our classroom and school was not recycling and helping preserve our natural resources. The students with the help of the City of Snyder began a recycling program at their school. They continue to encourage recycling in the community.

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Utah

  • Grade Level K-2
  • Team Name Team Earthlovers
  • Location Park City, UT
  • School Parley's Park Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Stacey Harris
  • DescriptionTeam Earth Lovers accepted Siemens’s challenge by starting a cafeteria-recycling program in their school. The goals were to reduce the amount of garbage to the landfill, educate students and faculty about cafeteria recycling, and provide a model for a sustainable cafeteria-recycling program. As predicated, the data recorded by Team Earth Lovers shows that the weight of garbage going to the landfill each week is reduced by almost half because of recycling. Students, faculty, and parents are more aware and involved in reducing, reusing, and recycling.

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Virginia

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name SAS Fab 4ths!
  • Location Richmond, VA
  • School Saint Andrew's School
  • Teacher/Mentor Kimberly Dell
  • DescriptionThe Fab 4ths planned to analyze the amount of waste created by their school during lunch periods. The goal was to see if recycling and composting were sustainable options. They learned ultimately that both are feasible and by analyzing the waste they were able to make recommendations for other, more eco-friendly menu items.

Wisconsin

  • Grade Level 3-5
  • Team Name Stein's Stars
  • Location West Allis, WI
  • School Horace Mann Elementary School
  • Teacher/Mentor Mary Jean Stein
  • DescriptionThe team members of Stein’s Stars tried to raise money by collecting and recycling aluminum cans and tabs. Hoping to raise enough money to purchase bleachers and plants for their school courtyard, the team is still working towards their goal to make their school a more useable and beautiful green space. Students also helped educate other members of their school community on the benefits of recycling and ways to save the earth by creating an original play, which they performed for the entire student body. The students’ recycling program was so successful this school year that the class will continue working together in the future to meet their goals for a new green space.

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