Lexus Eco Challenge Makes An International Impact

Lexus and Scholastic Launch Fourth Annual Environmental Contest with $500,000 in Grants and Scholarships to be Awarded
 
TORRANCE, Calif., August 31, 2010 – The Lexus Eco Challenge has inspired and empowered more than 15,000 middle and high school students to learn about the environment and take action to improve it.  This fall, students are invited to participate in the fourth annual Lexus Eco Challenge for a chance to win part of $500,000 in grants and scholarships.  Lexus, the luxury automaker, has once again joined with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, to create the eco-friendly educational school program.
 
"The Lexus Eco Challenge has helped change the way I teach," said Debbie Viertel, a teacher from Lawton Chiles Middle School in Lakeland, Fla. "By giving my students a real-world challenge, they come up with something they care about.  Then they learn all the things I want them to learn in math and science, but the difference is that now they care.  It's a wonderful program." 
 
Last year's grand-prize-winning high school team set a new standard when they reached beyond the border and focused their project on helping Haiti.  Not only did they build a solar-powered biodiesel production system, they worked with representatives from a school in Haiti to plant a Jatropha Farm to grow seeds that generate oil for the biodiesel system.  In addition to giving the biodiesel system to the Haitian school, they also arranged for solar panels to be donated and installed at the school.
 
"The students at Mother McAuley High School really captured the spirit of the Lexus Eco Challenge," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager.  "When we launched this initiative in 2007, we wanted to see it grow and expand to make a positive impact all around the world.  Every year, we see more innovation, more creativity and more passion from the students and their teachers.  We can't wait to see what the teams do this year."
 
The Challenge has two distinct elements: 
The Challenges and Rewards
The Lexus Eco Challenge registration opens on Sept. 27, 2010, and will conclude with the announcement of the first-place and grand-prize-winning teams during Earth Month, April 2011.  Middle and high school teams, comprised of 5-10 students and one teacher advisor, are invited to participate in one or both of the two initial challenges, each addressing different environmental elements – 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.  Submission deadlines are: Challenge #1 (Land/Water) – Nov. 3, 2010 and Challenge #2 (Air/Climate) – Jan. 19, 2011.
 
Each of the 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. Throughout the challenges, students and teachers can ask questions and compare notes through a new blog featured on the Lexus Eco Challenge website (www.scholastic.com/lexus).
 
In mid-February, the winning teams from the first two 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, eight first-place teams and two grand-prize-winning teams will be selected.  Each of the eight first-place teams will receive a total of $15,000 in grants and scholarships, and the two grand-prize-winning teams will each receive $30,000.  The money will be shared by the students, their teacher advisors and their schools.
 
Judging Criteria
All entries for the initial two 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?
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Full program information including rules and entry details can be viewed at www.scholastic.com/lexus.

Teaching Tools for the Classroom
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 website (www.scholastic.com/lexus) also has extensive tools for them to use in their classrooms.  For each challenge, the website 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 four low-emission hybrid vehicles with a fifth hybrid debuting in early 2011.  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 up to $3 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children’s lives. 
 
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Media Contact:
Nancy Hubbell
Lexus Communications
nancy_hubbell@lexus.com
(310) 468-7633