By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampMay 14, 2009
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 14, 2009) - Going green isn't just an effort, it's an attitude, said Fort Leavenworth's award-winning environmentalist students who used Army Earth Day to share their message with the Fort Leavenworth community.
Patton Junior High School students Mackenzie Collen, Lilly Griswold, Anni Jose and Savannah Lucas, all seventh-graders, each won a $2,000 U.S. Savings Bond for their eCybermission project on environmentalism. The team, "Pretty Pink Ponies," were named criteria winners for seventh grade in the northwest region. They won in the team collaboration and communication category.
The team presented its project May 12 at Army Earth Day at the Frontier Conference Center.
eCybermission is a U.S. Army-sponsored, free, Web-based science, math and technology competition that allows students in grades six through nine to compete for regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their communities.
"When we first came up with the project, we had trouble finding something," Lucas said. "We really wanted something we could be passionate about."
Lucas said the team wrote a rap song at first, and the rest of the project materialized around the song. They came up with three easy things people can do to recycle: using reusable grocery bags, turning off the lights when not in use and recycling.
"Going green is easy and anybody can do it," Collen said.
Lucas said the team sent judges a statement about their project and how they worked together.
"I think it's because we're such good friends that we're able to talk to each other and work together," she said.
The team had no trouble keeping young elementary students interested in their presentation by sharing their songs and tips on environmentalism. Children crowded around their booth to push a "button" that made the girls sing, "I've got a recycling bin where my trash can used to be" and other original lyrics.
Griswold said she wanted children to know that they can help the environment.
"Even the little things they do are important," she said. "They can help their parents even though they're little kids and it can help the earth."
Jose said she wanted to teach how easy it is to save the planet.
"I think that going green is fast and easy and you're never too old or too young to start," she said.
Lucas said environmentalism's success is all in the attitude.
"You really have to be into it," she said. "You have to believe that you can make a difference even though you're one person, because other people will see that and start believing, too. Everybody will catch on and hopefully we can change something."
Other Patton students presenting for Army Earth Day used various themes to teach about the environment. Trey Renfro, seventh-grader, presented on using energy efficient light bulbs, solar panels, wind turbines, heating and cooling efficiency and fuel-efficient vehicles. When he started school at Patton, he noticed a lot of new computers, which he said is better for the environment.
"Most computers at Patton were big and bulky, except for the Smart Boards," he said. "Older ones could be replaced by newer ones because they use less energy."
One Patton group learned that just because a piece of property looks trashy, it might not be polluted. Nick Webster, Andy Ericks, Austin Rainville and Sam Rob completed a project on streams. The seventh-graders took pH tests of the stream near Patton, Corral Creek. They discovered that their hypothesis that the stream water polluted was incorrect when pH levels showed between 6.5 and 6.7 from different samples. A pH of 7 is neutral, so the water was mostly clean, the students said.
"We also thought we should move the rocks, but we found out we could change the stream flow and destroy natural habitats," Ericks said.
In the end, the students decided to pick up trash and leave the stream with its natural debris along the banks in order to preserve its ecosystem.
Students visiting this year's Army Earth Day also saw an owl and kestrel from Operation Wildlife in Linwood, Kan. The organization rescues wild animals. Eisenhower Elementary School's science lab brought snakes, spiders and small furry creatures for students to touch.
Fort Leavenworth Emergency Services sent firefighters to show students how to put out a real fire. Using a fire extinguisher, students were able to successfully put out a small fire safely lit in a camp stove.
Fire Inspector Mike Redford supervised the young fire trainees. Redford said the training uses hand-on skills to show where to point the extinguisher and how to pull the pin. It is also environmentally friendly, because the training extinguisher uses only water.
"I do extinguisher classes and you can do classroom training, but they don't get to pull the pin and use the fire extinguisher," Redford said.
This year,A,A more than 12,000 students registered for eCybermission and 2,005 teams submitted their research for scoring. Now in its seventh year, eCybermission has awarded more than $6.8 million in U.S. EE Savings Bonds in support of the science, math and technology leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception, more than 58,000 students from across the country, in U.S. territories and Department of Defense Education Activity schools worldwide have participated in the competition.
Registration for next year's competition opens Aug. 1. For a complete listing of the 2008-2009 winners or for more information, visit www.ecybermission.com.