Green School: Science Club National Winners
Second-Grade Scientists Win the "We Can Change the World" Challenge
The Concord Hill Greenies were awarded first prize for their project “Zero Miles Per Gallon” in the Siemens 2011 “We Can Change the World” Challenge for Kindergarten through Second Grade.
The Greenies solved a long-standing environmental problem at the school. They reduced the amount of time cars were idling in the parking lot during dismissal, which in turn reduced the amount of pollution from the cars. The students learned that an idling car gets zero miles per gallon, yet still produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas it burns.
To help solve the issue of cars lining up and idling in the parking lot at dismissal, the team turned to queuing theory, which provides a way to analyze queues or lines with the goal of making them move faster and more efficiently. The team collected data on the number and patterns of cars idling and interviewed teachers to get their input on how to improve the pickup system.
The team’s research showed that on a typical Friday, each car would idle in the parking lot for more than seven minutes. Collectively, the cars were burning more than 6 gallons of gasoline every Friday. The team performed simulations in their after-school meetings to develop the best solution for efficiency and reduction of car idling.
They changed the pickup procedure to stagger pickup times and communicated the change with parents through weekly messages. Additionally, the students created an educational video that was shown to the school community to inform students and parents about the pollution from idling cars and their solution.
When the science team tested its solution in March, compliance was nearly 97%. The team collected data and found that cars spent 70% less time idling than before the campaign, significantly reducing the amount of pollution produced by idling cars at their school.
The team was composed of 13 second-grade students and was led by Tracy Yaffe, Ph.D., science and math teacher and Jack Daggitt, parent volunteer/mentor.
Second-Grade Scientists Win the "We Can Change the World" Challenge... Again!The Second Grade Science Club was chosen for its project on reducing water run-off from its school campus. The team worked to decrease any pollutants in run-off and clean water waste. Through careful observation of the school’s site and school buildings, the team noted that new trashcans with lids were needed, that there were major leaks in the school’s gutters and that many of the school’s water fixtures were leaking.
As a result of the students’ work, the problems have been fixed. The team also planned the installation of a rain barrel and a rain garden to clean water run-off before it enters the local culvert. Finally, the students taught the student body what they had learned in an interactive, demonstration-rich assembly.
The winners receive their Agents of Change bags filled with prizes.