Do you know a creative, committed, enthusiastic student who wants to help solve tomorrow’s most daunting environmental problems? Discovery Education and Siemens have kicked off this year’s We Can Change the World Challenge, a national sustainability challenge for K-12 students. Under the program, students team up with classmates under teacher/mentors to solve environmental problems in their school (grades K-5), community (grades 6-8) and world (grades 9-12).
Now entering its fourth year, the challenge is a collaborative effort of the Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, the National Science Teachers Association and the College Board. Students at all levels use scientific investigation and web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education to create a replicable green solution. Nearly 18,000 elementary, middle and high school students competed in last year’s challenge, offering innovations in areas such as food-waste-to-energy, community-scale battery recycling, phantom-power load reduction, systematic behavior change, erosion control, wildlife habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture for arid zones.
Last year’s Grand Prize winners came from schools all across the country, including:
- West Branch High School, West Branch, IA, where entrants conducted an energy audit of their high school and found many items that could be improved;
- Kohala Middle School, Kapaau, HI, where students collected over 66,000 batteries in the community for proper disposal;
- Barringer Academic Center, Charlotte, NC, where entrants completed a campaign that reduced paper waste in their school; and
- Concord Hill School, Chevy Chase, MD, which reduced car idling by parents at the school by 70 percent.
To join this educational initiative toward improving the planet’s outlook, teachers and mentors can register for the Challenge, add their student teams and begin formulating their projects at www.wecanchange.com. Student and teacher/mentor prizes vary according to grade level and value more than $250,000 total, include scholarships, savings bonds, school grants, adventure trips and a chance to present their idea at the United Nations.