2011-2012 Champions of the Environment
The W.A.T.E.R. (West Ashley Team of Environmental Restoration) Wildcats at West Ashley High School will be studying the impact of polluted rainwater runoff into wetlands. Students will work to improve the ecology of the school’s pond and surrounding wetlands by installing a floating wetland and underwater reef. They will work in teams on different aspects of the project including publicity, research and design, technology, and education. This group approach mimics the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Initiative developed by The Citadel and Chamber of Commerce.
Native plants will be attached to floating island pallets in the middle of the pond in order to decrease pollutants and increase biodiversity. Water quality will be tested throughout the year and a biodiversity survey will be conducted before and after the project. Students will share their findings on the school website and information about flora and fauna will be posted on kiosks placed around the pond.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Clemson Agricultural Extension Service, South Carolina Aquarium, Department of Natural Resources and master gardeners will be partnering with students on the project.
Barnwell County Career Center, Blackville
“Green” Living Project
Barnwell County Career Center will establish a “Go Green” Demonstration Facility to educate 8th -12th grade students on how “green” technology can make energy and agriculture more efficient and increase sustainability. Students in drafting, building construction, electricity, and agriculture programs will incorporate solar heat, wind energy, rain water collection, drought tolerant landscaping, and composting into the “green” building. Business education students will help demonstrate to the community and to local industries how they can use “green” technology at home.
Barnwell County Career Center plans to make the demonstration facility a free teaching tool available to surrounding feeder schools and other educational groups such as 4H and scout troops. Seasonal produce will also be sold at the Future Farmers of America Produce Stand to raise awareness about conservative agricultural practices.
Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia
Highlander School Environmental Education Programs
Students at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School will implement three environmental projects. First, a rain barrel and drip irrigation system will be constructed to collect and store rainwater. Twelve rain barrels will be elevated on a wooden platform to generate hydraulic pressure and irrigate the school’s Certified South Carolina Grown vegetable garden. Second, students will expand upon the existing plastic concession cup collection program by purchasing collection containers. Concession cups will be collected and repurposed into small pots for use in the school’s greenhouse. Finally, a green roof demonstration table will be constructed to study the benefits of alternative roofing materials. A digital thermometer will be installed to show how efficient each type of roofing material is in reflecting or absorbing solar energy.
By participating in these Environmental Education programs, students will learn how to use water more efficiently, how to reduce waste, and how to increase energy savings. Students will develop educational materials to share this knowledge with the community.
Pickens Middle School, Pickens
Pickens Middle School students will learn about watersheds and the effect of runoff pollution on water quality. They will do water quality testing of a local creek with help from the Clemson Extension Service. They will also educate the community about the importance of clean water by GPSing and labeling nearby storm drains, participating in creek clean ups, partnering with the city of Pickens on the “Turtles on the Town” project, placing rain barrels throughout the Pickens area, and decorating grocery bags with environmental messages.
The school has an active recycling program, with recycling bins for paper in every classroom and collection bins for plastic and aluminum in the halls. Garbage collected from the creek clean ups will be separated into the appropriate recycling container.
Gaffney Senior High School, Gaffney
Green Teens: Sustainability is a Reality!
At Gaffney High School, a student organization called the Green Teens, has started a recycling program that accepts paper, plastics, batteries, aluminum, printer cartridges, and cell phones. The Cherokee County recycling center picks up the collected items on a weekly basis.
Now the students are expanding the program to include the collection of cafeteria waste and landscape trimmings which will be composted and used to fertilize a student maintained herb garden. Rainwater will also be collected for irrigation.
Students will educate the community about sustainable gardening practices by placing educational signage around the garden, creating a brochure that will be posted on the school website, and by selling the harvested herbs at the local farmer’s market. Proceeds will be reinvested into the Green Teen account, designated for garden maintenance.
Wren Middle School
Rainy Day Garden
Sixth and seventh grade students at Wren Middle School are studying the impact of storm water on the local watershed. Through their “Rainy Day Garden” project, students will learn how rain gardens treat storm water to improve water quality, reduce water quantity, and reduce erosion.
Students will lay out a design plan using scaled drawings and square foot templates. They will learn about plants as they maintain the garden and will share the information through student developed outreach materials on Edmodo.com, a social network site for educators and students. Signs will also be developed and placed near the garden to educate school visitors about the environmental benefits of rain gardens.
Earth Design, Anderson Regional Joint Water System, Anderson County Storm Water, and the South Carolina Rural Water Association will be working with students on the project.
Moore Intermediate School
Better With Butterflies
Moore Intermediate School has been working toward becoming more environmentally friendly. A school environmental club was formed last year and the school has been participating in South Carolina’s Green Steps program. Now, students and teachers are working to establish a butterfly garden where students can learn about environmental issues in a natural setting.
Students and their families will be invited to prepare the area and do the initial planting. After that, student representatives will be appointed each term, and throughout the summer, to maintain the garden. Butterfly grow gardens will be provided to each science classroom so that students can observe the life cycle of a butterfly. When the garden is completed, students will release the butterflies into the garden.
The butterfly garden will be a focal point for science classes on ecosystems, insects, and plant and animal adaptations. However, the garden will also be used by the whole school for other lessons such as art and creative writing. Students will share their garden experiences through videos, podcasts and surveys on the school website.
Roebuck Elementary School
Roebuck Eagles Are Waste Free
Roebuck Elementary School will educate students and the community about the impact of waste free lunches on the amount of trash that goes to the landfill. In order to receive the lunch kit, students and parents must agree to pack food in the reusable food containers, wash and reuse the silverware and cloth napkins, store drinks in the reusable Bisphenol A (BPA) free bottles, control food portions so that there will be no leftovers, and pack it all in the reusable lunch bag. Students will weigh the amount of waste before and during the project, and graph the data to show how much waste is being kept out of landfills.
Teachers estimate that in the first year of the project, 10,050 pounds of trash will be kept out of the landfill.