Grand Junction High School team finalists in national ‘green’ challenge

A team of Grand Junction High School students is among 21 finalists nationwide for $50,000 in scholarships and prizes through the Siemens Foundation We Can Change the World Challenge.

More than 1,600 high schools across the U.S. participated in the challenge, which tasked students with coming up with ways to address energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation, air and climate issues. Grand Junction High’s Team Big Foot Carbonators became the sole qualifiers from Colorado in the challenge for their efforts to conserve energy at the high school.

The team consists of recent graduate Rebecca Roskowski and soon-to-be-juniors Trevor Abott, Rachel Martin and John Wyman, plus support members Cheyenne Kitsmiller, who will be a junior this fall, and Kia Marez, who will be a sophomore when school resumes.

The team’s initiatives have included asking Grand Junction High teachers to turn off at least half of their overhead lights for at least four hours a day to take advantage of natural light in classrooms, timing the school’s computers to automatically shut down between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. instead of staying on overnight, placing boxes for recycling paper and plastic in each classroom and reminding teachers to plug appliances into one power strip and shut off the strip at night.

The lighting initiative alone can save about $5,000 a year in electrical bills plus 37 tons of carbon dioxide, Roskowski said. Roskowski entered a science project on revegetation in the Siemens challenge last year. This year, she thought the school’s Granola Club should enter a project more targeted at the challenge’s vision.

“We wanted to see if there was a way to reduce our carbon footprint and be a more “green” school because Grand Junction is far from a green school,” Roskowski said.

The group’s ideas and a 12-page paper about them were enough to make it a finalist. Each team member will receive a “prize pack” for making it into the finals.

“Placing this high gives us more recognition. That we made the top 21 is nice,” Abott said.

The top team among the finalists, which will get $50,000 in scholarship money to distribute evenly, will be announced Wednesday. Grand Junction High English teacher Steve Brown, who advises the team, said he doesn’t expect to win, but the team has enjoyed this year’s projects.


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