September 23, 2008 - Torrance, CA - Water pollution, vampire electronics and alternative energy were just a few of the topics more than 3,500 young people across the nation addressed last year in the Lexus Eco Challenge. An even larger response is expected for 2008/2009 as Lexus and Scholastic announce the launch of the second annual Lexus Eco Challenge. The Challenge, an educational program and contest that inspires and empowers middle and high school students to learn about the environment and take a stand to improve it, offers a total of $1 million in grants and scholarships for winning students, teachers and schools.
New this year is the support of third-generation oceanographer and environmentalist Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. "I met with Lexus a few years back because I was impressed with the company and wanted to explore how we could partner on spreading the word about my environmental concerns, so when I learned about the Lexus Eco Challenge, I was excited to participate," said Cousteau. "I'm a believer that once people realize how simple it can be to help protect our environment, they'll get involved. The Lexus Eco Challenge brings this realization to the next generation who will be most affected if we don't begin to find solutions to our environmental challenges today."
The Lexus Eco Challenge has two distinct elements:
• Standards-based supplementary educational materials - encourages teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment.
• Competition to reward environmental action - helps young people apply what they've learned in class through the program and empowers them to make improvements in their community by participating in any of the three environmental team challenges.
"We were so impressed last year at the breadth and depth of the ideas and programs implemented by participants in the Challenge," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "We saw teens discover their potential to make a difference, and we heard from teachers that they were truly inspired by what their students accomplished. We have high hopes for this second year as even more young people join us in helping to improve the environment."
The Challenges and Rewards
The Lexus Eco Challenge registration opened on Sept. 15, 2008, and will conclude with the announcement of the first-place and grand-prize-winning teams during Earth Month, April 2009. Middle and high school teams, comprised of 5-10 students and one teacher advisor, are invited to participate in three initial challenges, each addressing a different environmental element – land, water, and air/climate.
For each of the challenges, teams will define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report the results. Teams are invited to participate in as many of the three challenges as they choose. Submission deadlines are: Challenge #1 (Land) – Oct. 24, 2008; Challenge #2 (Water) – Dec. 12, 2008; and Challenge #3 (Air/Climate) – Feb. 6, 2009.
Each of the three challenges will have 16 winning teams – eight middle school and eight high school teams. The winning teams will each receive a total of $10,000 in scholarships and grants to be shared among the students, teacher and school. In addition, the winning action plans will be featured on a special Web page to inspire other students to take action in their communities.
In mid-February, the winning teams from the first three challenges will be invited to participate in the Final Challenge. Teams will be asked to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that are communicated to a wide audience. From the Final Challenge entries, 14 first-place teams and two grand-prize-winning teams will be selected. Each of the 14 first-place teams will receive a total of $30,000 in grants and scholarships, and the two grand-prize-winning teams will each receive $50,000. The money will be shared by the students, their teacher advisors and their schools.
All entries for the initial three challenges will be judged on a variety of criteria, including the overall action plan and team effort, the quality of writing, and supporting materials. A select panel of judges will consider questions such as: does the action plan show the team's clear understanding of the environmental issue; does the action plan clearly describe the results; does the action plan communicate a persuasive argument; and does the action plan communicate team effort?
Full program information including rules and entry details can be viewed at www.scholastic.com/lexus .
Helping Teachers Inspire Students through Education
The Lexus Eco Challenge educational materials developed with Scholastic are designed to align with national teaching standards for science, social studies, civics and language arts.
In addition to providing teachers with the information necessary to participate in the challenges, the Web site (www.scholastic.com/lexus) also has extensive tools for them to use in their classrooms. For each challenge, the Web site 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.
Lexus' Environmental Efforts
Lexus is the leading luxury automotive brand in the United States, both in sales and in environmental stewardship. Lexus was the first luxury brand to sell hybrids and currently offers three low-emission hybrid vehicles with a fourth hybrid coming next year. When Lexus began selling hybrids in 2005, it helped advance the concept of sustainability without sacrifice. To bring like-minded individuals together, it also developed the Lexus Hybrid Living site (www.lexus.com/hybridliving) that serves as a portal for people seeking a way to incorporate luxury and environmentalism into their lives.
The Lexus Eco 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.
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and children's media. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs and school-based book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, television networks and the Company's Internet Site, www.scholastic.com.