January 14, 2008 – Torrance, CA - Streams, lakes, oceans and ponds nationwide got a little cleaner when middle and high school students across the country entered the second phase of the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a program designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower students to take action to improve the environment. Sixteen school teams from 12 states were recognized today for their outstanding environmental action plans for the "Water Works" Challenge, the second of four challenges.
Each team wins $3,000 in scholarships and grants as well as an invitation to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance to win one of two $75,000 grand prizes. In all, more than $1 million in scholarships and grants will be awarded. The teams' winning Action Plans are posted on the Challenge's Web site (www.scholastic.com/Lexus) to help inspire other young people to make a difference in their own communities.
"Teachers are telling us they've never seen their students so motivated and excited," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Our goal was to inspire young people to discover how they can be a part of the solution, and now that we've seen the results of their efforts in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, we're the ones who are inspired."
For each of the challenges, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results. The Challenge #2 winners who best addressed "Water Works" were:
High School Teams:
"The Fifth Element" - Barron Collier High School, Naples, Fla.: Conducted an education campaign to increase awareness about the destruction of local coral reefs and how to protect them. Outreach included posters/signs at designated areas, leaflets to boating clubs, articles in the local newspaper and letters to legislators.
"Water Wizards" – Cate School, Carpinteria, Calif.: Researched water usage on campus and used data to make recommendations for water-conserving landscaping and reduced water usage in classrooms and dormitories.
"Marine Science Researchers" – Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta, Calif.: Used GPS and GIS technologies as well as water samples to show the contamination concentrations throughout the Los Angeles harbor and shared the findings with public safety divers and the community.
"Herricks Envision" - Herricks High School, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: Recruited 50 students to help at the Herricks Pond Clean-up and urged pond caretakers to reduce the amount of pesticides used in the area. Reduced the concentration of pesticides and contaminants in the water an average of 65.3 percent.
"Maine East Team" - Maine East High School, Park Ridge, Ill.: Created flyers and pamphlets to educate students about a variety of water-related issues including water resources, water conservation, flooding, disinfecting water, and lack of wetlands. Pre- and post-surveys showed an increase in knowledge and understanding of these issues among students.
"Save Our Fresh Water" – Olympus Junior High, Holladay, Utah: Created a Web site and implemented a media outreach campaign to raise awareness about the area's drought and how each person can help conserve water.
"Westminster CCC2" - The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Ga.: Conducted a school-wide water conservation program including homeroom announcements and articles in the school paper about the drought and how to conserve water. Worked with art classes to reduce water usage and encouraged battery recycling to decrease potential water contamination.
"The Dream Team" - W.R. Farrington High School, Honolulu, Hawaii: Organized beach clean ups at Sand Island Beach helping to reduce the amount of debris as well as raise awareness in the community about water pollution.
Middle School Teams:
"Nature's Knights" - Bogle Junior High, Chandler, Ariz.: Tested the water in nearby Lake Saguaro to determine the causes of pollution and created posters to help educate other students about pollution and how to prevent it.
"CSI" – Brooklake Christian School, Federal Way, Wash.: Worked with the parks department to organize a "Destruction Day" event aimed to remove non-native plants from Hylebos Creek wetlands, including more than 800 lbs. of blackberries.
"Fixing a Waste of Water" – Chute Middle School, Evanston, Ill.: Through research and measurement, the team discovered that more than 40 percent of the faucets in the school's restrooms were pumping more water than necessary. This project raised awareness among students about how to conserve water and it also resulted in the school fixing the inefficient faucets.
"Sugar is Sweet, and Now Sugar House Pond is Neat" – Olympus Junior High School, Holladay, Utah: Cleaned up Sugar House Pond and while doing so, raised awareness of pollution and set an example for how a small group can make a big difference.
"The Tree Huggers" – Olympus Junior High School, Holladay, Utah: Removed more than 55 lbs. of trash and debris from Cottonwood Creek improving the environment for the community as well as the animals that rely on the creek.
"The Water Wonders"- Phillipsburg Christian Academy, Phillipsburg, NJ: Collected more than 200 signatures on a petition to urge the government of New York to adopt sufficient flood control measures for the Delaware River and to urge the government of New Jersey to require sufficient runoff basins in new developments in the Delaware watershed to slow the pace of runoff water from major storms. Wrote and performed a rap song to help raise awareness of these issues among fellow students.
"WaterBoyz" - South County Secondary School, Lorton, Va.: Researched the sources of pollution at Howling Point, cleaned up the area, and created and distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood to encourage the community to help keep the water at Howling Point clean.
"St. Margaret Science Club"- St. Margaret Catholic School, Lake Charles, La.: Invited a water district representative to speak to the school's students about the source of their local water. Created a video to help educate the community about how to keep toxic materials out of local storm drains. Identified and cleaned up 100 storm drains resulting in 5-6 truck loads of debris and 16 50-gallon bags of garbage.
The Lexus Environmental Challenge launched on Sept. 10, 2007, and concludes with the announcement of the finalist and grand-prize-winning teams on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. Winning teams for Challenges #3 and #4 will be announced soon.
In addition to the ongoing contest, the Lexus Environmental Challenge also includes educational materials designed by Scholastic to encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment. For each challenge, the Web site (www.scholastic.com/lexus
) has lesson plans and teacher instructions including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.
The Lexus Environmental Challenge is part of The Lexus Pursuit of Potential, a philanthropic initiative that generates $3 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children's lives.