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Q & A with Bebi Davis, Past Winner of the Lexus Eco Challenge

Students Curious about what to expect from the Lexus Eco Challenge? Find out everything you need to know from Bebi Davis, a teacher at Farrington High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a past winner of the Lexus Eco Challenge. Here she talks about what you need to know to participate and why she feels it’s important to get involved.

1. When did you first learn about the Lexus Eco Challenge?

As a teacher, I constantly look for new ways to challenge my students and to bring out the full potential that I know each student possesses. One night, as I was browsing online, I stumbled upon the Lexus Eco Challenge. After reading about the details of the competition, I was immediately convinced that this was exactly the type of challenge that would bring out the best in my students.

2. What inspired you to participate?

My students’ thirst for knowledge and their curious minds are definitely what inspired me to participate in the Lexus Eco Challenge. I also knew that participating in this competition would allow me to build a stronger, more positive relationship with my students. I want my students to be global ambassadors, and this project is a vehicle for making a difference in the world and in the lives of people. Students perform at their best when they are motivated by a sense of purpose. I am inspired by the diligent work of my students and their drive to make a positive difference in their community and the world.

3. Why are competitions/challenges like this important for students? 

Competitions expose students to settings outside of the classroom and give them a feeling of accomplishment. Students go beyond the textbooks and lectures, so that they can apply their learning to real-life situations. Teamwork, time management, and communications skills are self-taught. Students learn to take action and make decisions and thus become leaders. I have personally seen students come out of their comfort zones and achieve more than what they initially thought they could do. Many students at Farrington are in free lunch programs. It is very important for their self-esteem to learn that they can compete with students from schools in higher income areas and do well.

4. Any advice for first timers who are gearing up to participate in this year’s contest?

Just like all competitions and projects, the Lexus Eco Challenge will require you to bring forth the best you can offer. You have to dig deep. As I have said, hard work, determination, and commitment are all necessary if you want to succeed. In order to accomplish all your tasks smoothly, I would advise that you be organized, be patient, and work hard. The Lexus Eco Challenge has definitely proven to be both stressful and competitive, yet it is always worth it. The reward is to see your fellow students’ growth, and to see their accomplishments in bringing awareness to global environmental issues. In my three years of advising the Farrington High School teams, I was able to build strong relationships with my students and community members, and as a team we were able to guide each other through obstacles to success. A strong relationship with your advisor and your team members is a must. Don’t be afraid to aim for the stars and ask for help from community leaders. To the advisors: Chocolate and humor are a must!  Work hard but remember to have fun!

5. How did your students react when you first told them about the idea of signing up for the Lexus Eco
Challenge?

My students were curious to learn more about the Eco Challenge and were ecstatic about the prizes. They quickly organized into groups and started to research and make their plans.

6. How did you integrate the contest into your teaching plans for the year?

The Lexus Eco Challenge has provided me with the opportunity to teach students about the recurring environmental issues in our community and the world and, in turn, the students learn how to apply these lessons to their own lives. Just this past year, I gave my chemistry students the option of participating in the Eco Challenge. I was overwhelmed by how fast they raised their hands! They already knew so much about the Eco Challenge, especially because they knew that previous teams from their school have won. The Eco Challenge has proven to be a great way to get students to work as a team, initiate positive change, and learn how to spread the message of being environmentally friendly, not just in the classroom but also in their community.
 
7. What are some of the projects that your students came up with for the Eco Challenge?

Each year, the different teams were able to come up with new and innovative ideas that have never been done before. The first team I advised focused on renewable energy, and the students really surprised me with the projects they created. I was especially impressed with the team when they created informational videos in different languages, hoping to target all the ethnicities that live on Hawaii. They also demonstrated fuel cells to both my physics and chemistry classes, and to an elementary school in the community.

The innovative ideas that originated with this team did not stop and the new teams have continued to find new ways to approach the Eco Challenge. I have seen teams that were determined to spread awareness in their community, which led them to produce Web sites and multiple videos, which were uploaded online via YouTube and their personal Web sites. Many also formed alliances with community organizations and coordinated cleanups with other community groups. Some of the projects were about fuel cells, wind turbines, recycling, invasive species, and beach cleanups.

8. What do you think your students will take away from the experience of competing in the Eco Challenge?

This program has had a very positive impact on the lives of my students and their community. They realized that they can be agents of change and that their voices can reach both near and far to effect positive change. They paved the path for other teenagers to follow in their footsteps. They also took with them a sense of responsibility to give back to society and a willingness to take leadership roles in promoting awareness and in making the world more sustainable.

9. What are you most looking forward to about the fourth annual Lexus Eco Challenge?

I am really looking forward to seeing what my students will come up with for this Eco Challenge. I have three years of experience as an advisor and I have seen some wonderful projects coming from the kids. There are a good number of veterans from past Lexus Eco Challenges who can use their wisdom and experience to contribute to this year's teams. There are also many fresh minds that can contribute new ideas that maybe no one has ever thought of. Year after year these young adults have surprised me with the level of hard work, determination, and commitment they have put into the Eco Challenge. Not to mention the things they have done and the knowledge they have acquired and spread in their community. I am looking forward to being surprised yet again in this year’s Eco Challenge.

 
In 2007–2008 Bebi Davis and her team of students won the Water Challenge and the national grand prize of $75,000. In 2008–2009 her team received awards for the Land, Air and Water Challenges, and in 2009–2010 her team won the Land/Water and the Air/Climate Challenges.

Comments

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Victor

Wow!! Good job! Whatever you're doing keep doing it cause this is the type of thing that makes people confident about our future with these type of kids at the wheel.

Jenine

This blog post is really interesting because I was once part of her class. My group joined the Lexus Eco Challenge before and it helped us learn important skills while helping the environment. My group used to do clean ups and presentations to different schools. I think that the Lexus Eco Challenge really helps students be more aware of the world's current environmental issues.

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