Staying after school each Friday afternoon to empty recycling bins and check for leaky faucets paid off for Debbie Swift’s EcoWarriors. Recently, the Davis Drive Middle School club competed in the Energy and Environmental Stewardship School Competition, and won a second-place prize of $1,250 for the school.
The competition, sponsored by the N.C. Triangle Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Wake County Public School System, had certain requirements that Swift said her club was already meeting: recycling, indoor air quality, energy savings and water savings.
Swift, a sixth grade science teacher, leads a variety of “green” efforts at Davis Drive Middle School. Her students make up the EcoWarriors and the Electric Car Club. Together with the Green Wars Club, science teacher Robin Grantham and technology teacher Kitty Bula, the school entered two spring competitions and spread the word about environmental awareness.
Q: What were some of the things your students had to do to prepare for the competition?
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At the end of the day, students checked to see if the lights were turned off in all classrooms. Our TVs stay on all day because they serve as our clocks, so they checked TVs and computers, too. They checked science classrooms for leaky faucets and bathrooms for any dripping.
The students had hang tags to note the problem areas for teachers. They then went back later to see if the teachers had fixed the problems. These were not glamorous jobs, but our students are very dedicated.
Q: What will your school use the money for?
We received the check so recently that I haven’t had a chance to speak with the other teachers and the principal about our recommendations. We’ll make the decision as a group. The ideas bouncing around in my head would include a weather station, a wind turbine or a solar panel. I would love to show the students green technologies in action.
Q: What about the other club you sponsor, the Electric Car Club? Didn’t that club recently participate in a competition, too?
Yes, the cars use solar panels to charge batteries. We are a member of N.C. State University’s pilot program, STEP (Sustainable Transportation Education Program).
Last weekend, we went to the Friday Institute on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus to race our electric car. There were 22 middle and high schools that participated. Because we could only take one team from our school, and we have five teams in the Davis Drive club, our teams had to compete at the school level first. The team that won was mostly seventh-graders, and mostly girls, which is a fun fact.
In the first part of the day, the team had a few glitches, and they made repairs. The racing part of the competition took place later in the day, and it got rained out. We didn’t get to finish the second part. But our team took first place with its technical report.
Q: Have you seen an increased awareness in environmental science in the last several years?
Many of our students’ parents work in RTP. I think our students might be even more aware than students elsewhere. They hear quite a bit about science and technology and are craving all current information about environmental technologies. These kids are eager to get into conversations about science and the environment. I can tell there are conversations going on in the home.
I’m very proud of our students and want everyone to know about their dedication.