Elementary School

2013 Elementary School National Finalists

Congratulations to the elementary school National Finalists of the 2013 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge! Click here to view the middle and high school Finalists.


  • Grade Level 3-5

  • Team Name Martinez 3rd Grade

  • Location Modesto, California

  • School Wilson Elementary School

  • Teacher/Mentor Angela Martinez

  • Description Team Planet Protectors is a group of 19 3rd graders in the same class at Wilson Elementary School in Modesto, California. When I asked them if they wanted to be a part of the challenge, they got very excited and came up with many things we could do to help the planet. We finally came up with doing a school-wide recycling program. We currently do not recycle anything. We will recycle paper, cardboard, bottles and other plastic, and cans. They also wanted to help the homeless in our area, and decided to take the money earned from recycling and give to help the homeless.

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  • Grade Level 3-5

  • Team Name Mrs. Truxel’s Fourth Grade Team

  • Location McCall, Idaho

  • School Barbara Morgan Elementary School

  • Teacher/Mentor Lindsey Truxel

  • Description A collaborative was formed with McCall Parks and Recreation and my fourth grade students to create a place-based, fourth grade standards-based integrated curriculum to scientifically study and tackle the invasive noxious spotted knapweed on school grounds. The weed has taken root on city and forest lands and has choked out native plants. The goal of the collaborative is to use the  biological control, knapweed beetles, to help stop  the spread and reclaim areas on school grounds and in our community that have been overrun with this noxious weed.

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  • Grade Level K-2

  • Team Name The Global Green Samaritans

  • Location Lisle, Illinois

  • School Kindi Academy

  • Teacher/Mentor Christi Helm

  • Description Environmental activists estimate that between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide. This is an environmental travesty.

    Our project was undertaken to reduce the amount of single use grocery bags that are used within our school community as well as a community in another corner of the world. We researched the effects that single use grocery bags have on our environment, educated our school community and a community abroad, provided an alternative, and measured whether educating these communities was enough to change their daily habits.

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  • Grade Level K-2

  • Team Name Dux Dragons

  • Location Duxbury, Massachusetts

  • School Chandler Elementary School

  • Teacher/Mentor Myrsini Smith

  • Description Two half-day Kindergarten classes took the challenge to change the way their K-2 elementary school recycles water bottles. Prior to our work, Chandler School, which consists of about 30 classrooms, had only one large can for plastics in the cafeteria.  Currently, most of the classrooms, including the Teachers' Room and main office, have their own decorated boxes just for plastic bottles. We made the boxes, distributed them, collected the water bottles and brought them to the local transfer station to be recycled.

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  • Grade Level 3-5

  • Team Name Recycling Renegades

  • Location Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

  • School Clifford Granger Elementary School

  • Teacher/Mentor Tammy Rumplik

  • Description Students have been working on ways to recycle at our school. We have continued recycling used glue sticks. We have started recycling paper bags from lunch. We also made new crayons from old pieces. We learned about the process of making paper and made paper from old scraps of paper. We held a paper free school day. We put on a play for a recycling assembly.

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New Jersey

  • Grade Level K-2

  • Team Name Conservation Crusaders

  • Location Milford, New Jersey

  • School Holland Township Elementary

  • Teacher/Mentor Stephanie Bacskai

  • Description The K-2 Holland Township School (HTS) Conservation Crusaders Enrichment team discovered the rain barrel system solution, with its sustainable benefits, for our school garden. They identified the problems of water waste and water runoff around our building. They learned that water is a non-renewable natural resource and that needs to be used more efficiently. This student team used the design process as they developed rain catcher systems and they were designated school leaders to teach their classes about the school process of installing a sustainable technology that works with the natural, water cycle system.

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  • Grade Level 3-5

  • Team Name St. Pat Science 5

  • Location Kent, Ohio

  • School Saint Patrick School

  • Teacher/Mentor Lura Roblee

  • Description Our fifth grade class began learning about trash and recycling in the United States in comparison to other countries. The students began asking questions about our local recycling, specifically here at school. Together we are researching and creating new recycling opportunities to share with the rest of our school (K-8)!

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South Carolina

  • Grade Level K-2

  • Team Name Second Grade Recycling Team

  • Location Charleston, South Carolina

  • School Ashley Hall

  • Teacher/Mentor Elizabeth Flowers

  • Description With a change from the 4th grade to the 2nd grade as recycling team, we hope to reinvigorate our recycling program, raise awareness and increase participation. We planned to have the 2nd grade students take over the recycling collection, but they took the idea and ran with it, doing more than we ever anticipated.

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  • Grade Level 3-5

  • Team Name Franklin Foresters

  • Location Franklin, Wisconsin

  • School Ben Franklin Elementary School

  • Teacher/Mentor Sharon Hushek

  • Description Transforming a degraded oak woods at our school into a healthy forest and outdoor learning lab is helping to promote my students’ understanding about global and local environmental issues, as well as giving them the opportunity to create real and positive change in their own community. My students have made connections with local experts who are helping us take what we learn about our forest and create displays, websites and a high-tech nature trail to share throughout our school district and community.

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