High School

2011 High School State Finalists

Congratulations to the high school State Finalists of the 2011 Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge! Click here to view the elementary and middle school Challege Finalists.

Alabama

  • Team Name Power Generators
  • Location Birmingham, AL
  • School Alabama School of Fine Arts
  • Teacher/Mentor Scott Raszeja
  • Description After a team member took a trip to the Hoover Dam and learned about hydropower, Team Power Generators converged to explore clean energy solutions. The team focused on a type of hydropower derived from the potential and kinetic energy of falling rain that has not been researched. The team designed, developed, and tested a structural based hydro-electric generator that could store and utilize energy derived from rain. The generator proved to be fully-functional and charged a cell phone. Power Generators successfully harvested a new type of clean energy and hopes to further explore uses for this type of clean energy solution.

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Arizona

  • Team NamePut the Green Back in Verde
  • LocationSedona, AZ
  • SchoolSedona Red Rock High School
  • Teacher/Mentor Elaine Watkins
  • Description The Verde Valley was once the most fertile valley in Arizona. Due to prolonged drought, overdevelopment, and population growth, the valley has suffered. Put the Green Back in Verde sought to develop a green zone – they salvaged materials and converted an unused spot into a 3,600 square foot garden/food park. The team has inspired other schools in the area to begin their own gardens. In addition, the team has partnered with several community partners to look into expanding the reach of their products and to educate others about sustainable farming practices.

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California

  • Team NamePVHS SSI
  • LocationSanta Maria, CA
  • SchoolPioneer Valley High School
  • Teacher/MentorRiccardo Magni
  • Description Team PVHS SS1 sought to find an alternative source of energy that would not cause any damage to the environment. They built and tested the energy harvesting potential of a wave-energy device and attempted to measure the environmental impacts on the sounds produced by the device on marine organisms. The team concluded that their device successfully harvested energy relative to its size. Although the device did make noise and fish can be affected by certain sounds in the water, the team concluded that with proper monitoring and more testing, the device could be a viable alternative energy source. Team PVHS SS1 has met with officials at Vanderburg Air Force Base and is working with PG&E to carry out a similar project.

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Colorado

  • Team Name GJHS
  • LocationGrand Junction, CO
  • SchoolGrand Junction High School
  • Teacher/MentorJane McAuley
  • Description When GJHS discovered that one of their favorite hiking spots was located in an area being considered for leasing for oil shale exploration, this team decided to investigate the possibility of reclamation and revegetation of spent oil shale. Formed millions of years ago, oil shale contains kerogen, a source of crude oil. The team conducted an experiment to investigate whether it would be possible to revegetate spent oil shale by mixing the spent oil shale with native top soil and plating native wild grasses in the mixtures. The team recommended capping the shale with top soil and mixing with top soil in an efficient ratio. The team has been in contact with an environmental organization to explore expanding the solution after determining the feasibility of other areas and countries taking measures to properly dispose of spent oil shale.

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Georgia

  • Team NameSiemens Sea Stars
  • LocationLawrenceville, GA
  • SchoolGwinnett School of Mathematics,
    Science, and Technology
  • Teacher/MentorMary Mattimoe
  • Description Following the team’s concern for lead batteries ending up in our landfills, Siemens Sea Stars decided to focus their project on creating a battery from reused, biodegradable parts. The team conducted an experiment to test the efficiency of a traditional battery against two alternative team-made batteries: a lemon juice battery and a vinegar battery. In the end, the lemon juice battery produced an almost similar amount of current as a normal AAA battery. Siemens Sea Stars is continuing to develop ideas to improve the lemon juice battery’s functionality and hopes to share this research with corporations and organizations around the world so that they create biodegradable batteries.

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Illinois

  • Team Name Little's Green Saxons
  • Location Schaumburg, IL
  • SchoolSchaumburg High School
  • Teacher/MentorTim Heisler
  • Description Little’s Green Saxons sought to make recycling a more common practice, starting with their school community. The team wanted to reform the recycling system and to make the process more appealing and exciting for the school to engage in. FunBinz, recycling bins with basketball hoops painted in the school colors, were deposited in classrooms, and the team conducted an experiment to compare the rate of recycling with the FunBinz, which allowed students to recycle by shooting through a basketball hoop, with the regular recycling bins. The team predicted that the FunBinz would give students a more interesting and memorable way to recycle. They have met with school officials to expand the program and hope that it will serve as a model for other schools and communities. They want to work with environmental companies and organizations to sell their bins on a larger scale. Though some adjustments to the design would be necessary, they believe their idea can be replicated on a national or global scale.

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Indiana

  • Team NameClean plate, clean energy
  • Location West Lafayette, IN
  • School West Lafayette Junior/Senior High School
  • Teacher/MentorRakesh Agrawal
  • Description Team Clean Plate, Clean Energy learned that their city was already generating energy by recycling the food waste of the dining courts through an overhauled anaerobic digester. They designed a pilot program to recycle food waste to create energy and tested the program in their town. Their study indicated a great interest in recovering food waste with the added value of displacing fossil fuels, greenhouse gasses, increasing the lifespan of landfills, using the byproduct as fertilizer, and saving the city money. The team served as a liaison between the school, the city WWTU, Waste Management, restaurants and schools to lead the initiative. The team’s project demonstrated replicability to other communities, showing offsetting of operational costs by using existing infrastructure and technology, working towards a zero-waste-to-landfill goal. Students expanded the project by educating their school and community with posters and presentations. They worked with Waste Management to lead a county green initiative. Additionally, the team presented to the Mayor and City Council and is working with them to create a partnership with local restaurants. A local radio station interviewed them and, as the community has become more aware of the program, the team is receiving support from many organizations and their local government.

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Iowa

  • Team Name T.E.A.M.S.
  • LocationWest Branch, IA
  • School West Branch High School
  • Teacher/MentorHector Ibarra
  • Description After conducting an energy audit of their high school, Team T.E.A.M.S. found that the school could make several updates and enhancements that would reduce energy consumption. These included replacing outdated pneumatic thermostat HVAC systems with variable frequency drive systems, purchasing energy efficient refrigerators, and increasing awareness on energy efficiency. The team presented their ideas to the School Board and many of their recommendations have been approved and implemented. Following this, T.E.A.M.S presented at a Legislative Energy Summit and traveled to the state Capitol to meet with legislators and the Iowa Department of Energy Independence. They are working with legislators to craft a bill that encourages energy audits of all public buildings and hope to further help other reduce their energy impact.

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Maryland

  • Team Nameilluminate4change
  • LocationRockville, MD
  • SchoolThomas S. Wootton High School
  • Teacher/Mentor John Fitz
  • Description Illuminate4Change focused on decreasing the number of lights that buildings use to reduce the annual carbon dioxide emission rate. They found that manipulating sunlight can improve lighting and save energy. The team studied the different ways sunlight has been manipulated in various environments and came up with a way to effectively harness sunlight for use in any rooms with windows using reflectors. This solution proved to be a cheap alternative to artificial lighting and can be can easily be implemented into existing buildings found in both developed countries and third world countries. The team hopes to share their prototype and research with organizations to make have profound impact on lowering energy consumption.

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Massachusetts

  • Team Name Microbial Fuel Cells
  • Location Wellesley, MA
  • SchoolWellesley High School
  • Teacher/Mentor Kenneth Bateman
  • Description With the goal of finding an alternative energy source that would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, Team Microbial Fuel Cells created a battery utilizing bacteria found naturally in mud. Not only is the bacterial fuel cell composed of easily accessible materials, but it is also easily constructed and produces no more environmental pollutants than healthy bacteria in a natural environment. The experiment proved that a fuel cell powered by bacteria can produce and maintain voltage. The team believes that this microbial fuel cell trial provides results that could lead to a clean and renewable energy source that could be easily accessed worldwide.

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Michigan

  • Team Name Fearsome Foursome
  • LocationTroy, MI
  • SchoolTroy High School
  • Teacher/Mentor Rebecca Brewer
  • Description As residents of the Detroit metro area, whose economy is heavily dependent on the automotive industry, the students chose a project to improve the environment by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars. Fearsome Foursome designed a wind turbine – a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy – that would harness the wind power generated by a moving vehicle. The energy created by the wind turbine assists in powering the battery of the car, thus decreasing the amount of gasoline required. The students tested the voltage created by a wind turbine and found that the energy produced could help power the car’s battery. They concluded that harnessing wind energy is an effective alternative energy source to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and have a significant positive impact on the environment. The team has presented their findings to General Motors and hopes to continue to share their findings with other automobile companies.

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Nebraska

  • Team Name Carbon Cutters
  • LocationOmaha, NE
  • School Burke High School
  • Teacher/MentorHakan Armagan
  • Description Carbon Cutters focused on reducing their carbon footprint, reducing energy consumption, and saving money for their school. The team noticed that their school kept all the lights on in the hallways during passing periods and the first and last five minutes of classes. They found that turning off only a third of the light bulbs in each panel would save the school over $1,000 a year. Further, if the project were to be implemented nationwide to all high schools, they found it would save over $40 million for the country per year, which would result in a smaller carbon footprint and less environmental impact. The team has presented their project to the National Climate Change Student Summit and will present their ideas to their School Board.

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Nevada

  • Team NameAIRDRY
  • LocationHenderson, NV
  • SchoolHomeschool
  • Teacher/MentorDeborah McGill
  • Description AIRDRY investigated a more ecologically friendly method of drying laundry and quantified its impact. The students researched alternative drying methods around the globe and designed an experiment to test their hypothesis. The results of their analysis revealed that this alternative method could reduce carbon emissions, that it was feasible in their region and that it could be applied with some additional limitations globally. The team has launched a website and created a PSA to educate the public on the benefits of air-drying.

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New Jersey

  • Team NameMillers
  • LocationMillburn, NJ
  • SchoolMillburn High School
  • Teacher/MentorPaul Citrin
  • Description The team wanted to determine which incentive(s) is/are most important in encouraging people to consume electrical energy during off-peak hours as opposed to on-peak hours. The team discovered the Time of Day meter, a free device offered by utility companies, to monitor off-peak versus on-peak hours was available for free, but was only being used by approximately 5% of customers. Millers set out to understand and implement the most effective methods for influencing an average consumer to convert to a Time-of Day Meter and change their power usage. The team created a brochure with energy saving information and then conducted surveys to understand the drivers that would move individuals to reduce their energy consumption during on-peak hours. The team found that environmental, economic and social incentives are all important in motivating consumers to alter energy behavior. Working closely with the Environmental Commission of Millburn Township, the Mayor has agreed to help the team communicate the multiple benefits of changing to the Time-of-Day Meter using correspondence from the Township Environmental Committee.

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New York

  • Team Name Sol Power
  • LocationSmithtown, NY
  • SchoolSmithtown High School West
  • Teacher/MentorJoanne Figueiredo
  • Description Sol Power wanted to provide electricity to those people living in developing countries. Specifically they wanted to provide an inexpensive solar system that would give individuals the ability to have lighting at night and to charge their cell phones. The team designed and built a small, portable solar tracker to provide energy to people living in developing countries. Through tests, the team showed that the panel nearly doubles efficiency. Sol Power has been featured in local papers and television; the team has also presented their solutions to local organizations. Through funding by the National Honor Society, this solar panel will be implemented in Nicaragua and Madagascar.

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North Carolina

  • Team NameInnovation in Insulation
  • Location Raleigh, NC
  • SchoolWilliam G. Enloe Magnet High School
  • Teacher/MentorChad Ogren
  • Description When Innovation in Insulation discovered that in the United States people waste over 84% of all useful energy, they wanted to promote a solution to reduce energy waster. The team chose to focus on improving window and building insulation; their solution was to use Aerogel in window insulation across double-pane glass. Although Aerogel has been around since the 1960s, it has not been harnessed as a window insulator. The team found that an Aerogel insulated-window has a lower thermal conductivity than the conventional two-pane glass window and is a low cost solution that can be integrated into the existing window structure. The team has begun outreach to local school districts, legislators, and national home design companies to share their findings.

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Ohio

  • Team NameEnvironmental Discovery Project
  • LocationChesterland, OH
  • SchoolWest Geauga High School
  • Teacher/MentorIrene McMullen
  • DescriptionTeam Environmental Discovery Project wanted to reduce energy and air particulates used at their school through the institution of a no-idling program at their school to reduce production of vehicle emissions. Additionally, they wanted to reduce the food miles consumed in their school’s dining and cooking classes by creating a vegetable garden at their school to produce local food. They surveyed the community to find out what people knew about the issue and conducted air quality testing. They spread the word using signs, presenting at a no-idling education night and submitted a successful grant proposal. Additionally, the team proposed a state no-idling law for school buses to Governor, EPA and legislators. Environmental Discovery Project is speaking at the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting and is partnering with organizations in countries all over the world to create energy-saving solutions.

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Oregon

  • Team NameTURBINE
  • LocationPortland, OR
  • SchoolCatlin Gabel School
  • Teacher/MentorVeronica Ledoux
  • DescriptionTURBINE realized that the water arriving at their school travels downhill and thus arrives at the school under higher pressure than necessary. They determined that installing a microturbine in the school’s water line could harvest usable energy from this pressure difference. First they shared their solution with their school facilities management and our local water district of our findings, and presented to several groups of facilities managers from different school districts. Additionally, TURBINE produced a video that explains the possibilities of the project, which they posted on YouTube to share with others around the world. The team then conducted an experiment to collect data on the feasibility and effectiveness of installing a microturbine. The team is planning to present at the Oregon School Facilities Management Association Annual Conference and hopes to utilize their school’s international connections to expand the project further.

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Pennsylvania

  • Team NameEastern Pennsylvania Energy Solutions
  • LocationPerkasie, PA
  • SchoolPennridge High School
  • Teacher/MentorDeborah Cotner-Davis
  • DescriptionThe team studied the use of hydroelectric energy in the flow of the waste water system to produce electricity that could be put back into the electricity grid. Eastern Pennsylvania Energy Solutions contacted waste management officials in cities around the world to gather values needed to estimate the savings in reusing this particular energy source. After constructing a model for their proposed generator, the team drew conclusions on the most effective design and calculated the amount of energy, and money, that could be saved using the water flow in most sewage systems. The model requires a large sewer system with millions of people inputting water, and so it could be applied in metropolitan areas around the globe. Their ultimate goal through this process would be to create an industry around sewer-based hydroelectric generation and to make this technology a mainstream solution that could be implemented globally to not only save cities money, but also to reduce the enormous toll that fossil fuels are taking on the environment.

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Tennessee

  • Team NameEC^2
  • LocationNashville, TN
  • SchoolSchool for Science and Math at Vanderbilt
  • Teacher/MentorJonathan Creamer
  • DescriptionTeam EC^2 implemented an energy conservation competition among the freshman residential houses at Vanderbilt University to examine whether a non-monetary reward (winning the “Commons Cup”) would be effective in changing student behavior affecting the environment. Through the competition, the freshman student body saved Vanderbilt approximately $10,000 in 5 months by reducing their energy usage by 3.5% compared to the previous year, thus validating the use of a non-monetary award. The team issued two press releases and featured their project on the school’s website and a Facebook page, among other sites. They have already contacted other universities to try to implement a similar competition to further expand, nationally and globally.

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Texas

  • Team NameHydro Poly
  • LocationFort Worth, TX
  • SchoolPolytechnic High School
  • Teacher/MentorMichael Beaupre
  • DescriptionTeam Hydro Poly developed an inexpensive, portable hydroelectric power generator for helping third-world countries generate electricity where they would otherwise have none. The team created a micro hydroelectricity generator (“Elect Hydro System”), a “green” technology that provides sustainable energy while, at the same time, providing educational opportunities regarding ecofriendly solutions. They built their generator out of an alternator from an 18-wheeler they found at a salvage yard. The team also wrote and designed a professional brochure to distribute with information about the generator and spread the word by posting their product on many different websites, including social networking sites. Hydro Poly is working to get the product featured in a city newspaper and is working with an engineering firm to improve the design.

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Virginia

  • Team NameMagnetic Induction
  • LocationManassas, VA
  • SchoolThe Governor's School @ Innovation Park
  • Teacher/MentorKaren Wolfson
  • DescriptionMagnetic Induction focused on using electromagnetic induction to create an apparatus that can generate and store a charge produced by human motion (kinetic energy), a device that could be implemented in people’s daily lives and in emergency situations when electricity is not available. The team performed multiple tests to define the ideal materials, all while considering the feasibility in using the same materials in other countries. Their final design harnesses the kinetic energy created in human motion. The final prototype is small and wearable and would be able to power things like phones, lights, and radios and could be recreated and used in societies all over the globe. They hope to expand their idea through social networking sites and by partnering with company to develop and distribute the product.

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Washington

  • Team Name Biochar Power
  • LocationVancouver, WA
  • SchoolHeritage High School
  • Teacher/MentorDarlyn Wendlandt
  • DescriptionBiochar Power studied different methods of creating biochar, which has a positive effect on the growth of plants. The team wanted to use materials that did not have any value or that had a price to get rid of, such as cardboard. They started a recycling program, which helped separate the waste for from the non-recyclable food containers. Biochar Power found that cardboard takes too much energy to convert and only resulted in small amounts of biochar. The team then decided to create cardboard pulp pots out of the cardboard and blend in nutrient-enriched biochar into the structure of the pot. They are now pitching their pot idea to local yard and garden businesses to garner interest in their findings.

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Wisconsin

  • Team NameBA Blue Knights
  • LocationBrookfield, WI
  • SchoolBrookfield Academy
  • Teacher/MentorMatthew Flack
  • DescriptionBA Blue Knights set out to reduce paper and save energy after hearing that their school was on pace to use 3.5 million sheets of paper of the school year. After conducting extensive research, including surveying teachers, they developed a plan to modify common practices regarding paper usage. The team educated teachers on using email and websites as a platform for communicating to students things that would typically require paper usage, such as homework assignments. After analyzing the results of their campaign, they calculated a significant decrease in the use of paper, ink, and energy by buying recycled paper, using computer programs for homework/papers, and putting the student high school newspaper online. BA Blue Knights is continuing to expand the campaign and have identified ways for their solution to replicated globally.

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