Hunter EcoHeroes earn national recognition

Posted June 14, 2010 8:44 a.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2010 8:46 a.m. EDT

— A group of students from Raleigh’s Hunter Elementary School earned second place in a national competition to develop "green solutions."

Teacher Smith Raynor said she selected her “EcoHeroes” from students in kindergarten, first and second grade who seemed hungry for a challenge

“They all are interested in science and all seem to be high energy, too,” she said.

The Siemens “We Can Change the World Challenge” asks that students identify an environmental issue in their community, plan how to make a change that would be more sustainable, then analyze the results of their efforts.

At Hunter, the EcoHeroes focused their energy on the school cafeteria.

“We looked at the trash cans and discovered lots of people were throwing away plastic, recyclable bottles,” Raynor said.

Like all good scientists, the students collected data. By tracking the number of trash bags for weeks, they discovered that the school was filling a dumpster every two and a half days with waste.

The cafeteria did not have a recycling bin, so the students got the school to provide one.

To spread their message, the students made posters to encourage others to save the Earth.

They applied the lesson at home as well. More students are pacing their lunch in reusable containers and bottles to further reduce waste.

Second-grader Vaishnavi Katragadda said, “I am now making a whole lot of recycling in my home. Our recycle bin is exploding!”

The Hunter EcoHeroes earned second place in the K-2 division from Siemens. They will get a $3,000 grant to further put their ideas into action and their photo will appear on the Jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, probably, we'll be famous!’”, Katragadda said.

Raynor said the lesson is simple. “Even if you're 6, 7, 8 years old, you can make a difference.”