STEM Team Wins National Competiton

The middle school’s STEM Research team won the Air and Climate Challenge in the 2017 Lexus Eco Challenge competition, earning $10,000. The team is one of only 16 teams nationwide to earn this prize, and it now advances to the final stage of the competition.
The Lexus Eco Challenge asks participants to solve problems in their own communities related to global warming, air pollution, ozone depletion, greenhouse gases, or fossil fuels and renewable energy. Each project was judged on its action plan, overall team effort, quality of writing and project gallery.
Team Bottle Buddies, made up of eighth-graders Trinity Benstock, Elizabeth Gresalfi, Samantha Lautato, Dominick Marrone, Mishka Scotto and Nichole Tiglias, focused on reducing the middle school’s carbon footprint and saving the environment from harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Their research revealed that 50 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the United States, and the production of plastic bottles creates a large amount of greenhouse gases. They also discovered that deforestation is another contributor to climate change because trees absorb carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
The team’s action plan included educating the middle school population on this environmental problem and encouraging them to recycle by bringing their empty plastic bottles to school. The bottle caps would be used to create an environmentally themed mural for the school. The second part of the project entails planting seeds in plastic bottles to grow trees and selling them to the community.
Their message was shared in many ways, including writing an article for the school newspaper, creating a website and making posters. Participants used their personal skills and interests to contribute to the project.
Middle school teacher Julie Feltman coaches the team and said the collaboration was part of what made the project successful. “Each student used a variety of skills to bring this project to completion. Writing, research, graphic design and sales are just a few of the areas that complemented our curriculum.”
Team Bottle Buddies is now eligible for the final Lexus Eco Challenge and a chance to win one of two grand prizes of $30,000 or one of eight first prizes of $15,000.