Are you thinking about entering the Lexus Eco Challenge but are hesitant about all the extra effort it will take? This inspiring teacher along with her high school team of student-crusaders at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, CA may motivate you to take on an environmental initiative in your community.
Now Ms. Evans-Bye is working with a new team, the Leviathans, and they are busy trying to win this year’s Final Challenge. We asked the student team members to talk about their project, and the impact it is having in their communities and in their lives.
Winning the Air/Climate Challenge has not only given the students money to continue their work and pay for college, but it’s given them confidence and life skills to tackle any challenge as maturing young adults.
Read on to hear from the students themselves about how winning this challenge has changed their lives and their futures, and why entering this challenge is well worth the effort.
Tevin: I visualize a community that is both green and efficient. However, Los Angeles, the city that raised me since the day I was born, isn’t exactly this dream community. In fact, in a 2011 American Lung Association survey, Los Angeles ranked number one in terms of high ozone levels and number two in terms of unhealthy year-round particle pollution levels. My team and I live in one of the most polluted cities in the United States, and the air condition progressively grows worse.
I want to change that. Although I can’t stop the growth myself, I can take part in the community to reduce the exponentially growing concern of our unhealthy air. Even doing something as simple as creating this project can be huge if the whole community takes part in it.
How does your project help your local environment?
Edmond: Our project helps the local environment by informing not only our
community but everyone that smog pollution is a big deal in the world we are living in now.
Yeprem: Our project allows regular, everyday people, as well as professionals in various fields of environmental and non-environmental study, to look at their own residences and see the effects of smog in terms of air quality and asthma risk.
Hrair: Our project targets establishments that need solar panels to both save the environment from output of CO2 emissions, and reduce the taxpayer’s money toward producing electricity for our schools.
Tevin: We presented a challenge to the Glendale Unified School Board: cut down the levels of emission of every school by doing simple things like switching off lights when a room is unoccupied and turning off air-conditioning units over weekends.
What advice would you give to other kids considering taking on this challenge?
Steve: Be passionate about your topic. Treat it as if you’re saving a life and not winning a prize.
Tevin: Always finish the project before the due date. Don’t wait until the last minute, or you’ll stress yourself out. Above all, have fun when researching your project! Blast some music while creating the PowerPoint! Play a game with your team once in a while. It may be extra work, but don’t make it a burden; make it something enjoyable.
Yeprem: Start as soon as possible, even a year in advance if necessary. Do all the research beforehand and organize a plan of action. If you’re scared of the extra work, suck it up—that’s life. No one makes a difference in this world without hard work. At the end of the day, it’s not about having fun. It’s about saying, “I changed my environment for the better.”
How has working on this project and/or winning the prize changed you?
Adrian: I didn’t really care about the extraordinary smog levels in Los Angeles County. Now, I’m more aware of this issue and realize it’s a very big deal.
Yeprem: This project has shown me that the capability of the adolescent teen is highly underestimated. Teens have more potential to make a difference than the average adult with proper guidance and teamwork.
Edmond: Winning the prize has changed how satisfied I really am with the project, and will help me tackle much bigger projects.
Steve: It taught me that proper cooperation overcomes any obstacle.
Hrair: Working on this project really taught me a life lesson the textbooks can’t. Through sheer effort, we achieved the impossible. We actually made a change in the environment. That is something to stand tall about—that an average lot of high school students made a dent in keeping our environment safe.
Are you like rock stars at school now?
Edmond: I wouldn't say we’re rock stars, but students are definitely supporting all of our projects and are excited that we have won.
Steve: No, we are like role models for the future classes. I am in a better position to afford college now.
Adrian: As far as winning the prize, it feels good. However, I'm not going to spend most of it. The prize is going toward university expenses.
Tevin: The best part about winning this project is that my school gains a higher reputation. It’s not Clark anymore. It’s Clark, the school that had the team that won more than $10,000 to help its community. But above all the increased fame, the students are much more aware of the environment, which is ultimately what I wanted.
Hrair: I wouldn’t say rock stars, but more like heroes, making our community a safer place for future generations.
What’s next for you?
Adrian: We’re taking this project to a global scale. We encouraged our school to install solar panels to conserve energy (and to cut energy bills). We generated more research-intensive maps, and we hope we can make even a bigger difference in our community.
Yeprem: We plan to assess smog levels around the world. Edmond and I have both interned at the City of Glendale, doing GIS work (geographic information system) and urban planning for the city. Edmond now makes $10 an hour doing GIS work (the same software we all learned in the classroom) for the city’s public works department mapping metro bus routes.
Steve: I want to pursue cancer research. This project has taught me that extensive research can help achieve any goal.
Hrair: After graduating from high school, I’m having high hopes of going to a distinguished university to receive my degree in electrical engineering. I am planning on significantly reducing the use of electricity in our country, and helping to save millions, if not billions in electricity bills, and reducing the pollution from burning fossil fuels. Working on this project has helped me confirm my major in electrical engineering, with the goal of discovering innovations to keep our environment safe.
Talk with your friends and teachers about the 6th annual Lexus Eco Challenge. Learn more at www.scholastic.com/lexus or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.