The Project for Innovation, Energy & Sustainability (PiES) held the first annual Green Idea Factory Competition on April 14th as part of the 2012 North Carolina Science Festival.  Students from Lake Norman area high schools presented a number of energy efficiency and other green project ideas.  Scholarship Awards are awarded for First and Second Place, Honorable Mention and Most Popular.

Kathleen Rose did a wonderful job organizing and planning the activities.  She invited me to the kick-off presentation in January to talk about the free curriculum NEED has on-line.  The students were doing projects on a variety of energy topics, all of which NEED covers to some extent.  I was invited back to be a judge for the students final projects – they made a lot of progress in four months!

From a teacher’s point of view, this was a wonderful contest for the students.  They weren’t asked to reword someone else’s work – the groups had to be original and come up with their own idea.  They had to communicate their idea with a poster, a one-page written summary and a ten-minute oral presentation.  What a great way for students to use higher level thinking skills and creativity!

I was thrilled to see one group show their multiple prototypes, illustrating their design process and explaining the tests they had done and why they had decided to revise each model.   One student did an amazing job making sure he covered everything on the scoring rubric the students had received.  One pair used humor and a questioning technique to make their presentation more interesting.  A couple of groups were focusing on others; one wants to help developing nations and another wants to educate elementary children.  Another was trying to find productive uses of items in landfills.  What a great group of kids!

The students didn’t stop impressing me…even after they left the presentation room.  The majority stuck around to look at the other student’s projects.  One young lady found partially full bottles of water that had been abandoned.  Instead of leaving them there for some adult to clean up, she dumped the extra water on the plants outside (instead of just down the drain), then recycled the bottles.  It was wonderful to see that the kids were actually interested in the science AND practiced what they preached about recycling and the environment!


 And the winners are…

1st Place: Zachary Kennedy, a freshman from Hough High School presented the Solar Composter, an invention that through use of a solar panel heating system optimizes the composting process so that it can be used year round, while preventing weeds and parasites.

2nd Place: Austin Bruckner and Scott Krabath, sophomores from the Community School of Davidson created a unique prototype wind turbine, influenced by modern architecture, which harnesses wind energy to create electricity.

Honorable Mention: David Keener, a junior from Woodlawn School won Honorable Mention with his six-watt portable solar battery charger, providing clean, consistent, and convenient renewable energy.

Most Popular: Ashley Ernest and Bekah Conner from the Community School of Davidson won the most votes for their eco-friendly trashcan, a devise that needs no trash bags and therefore saves petroleum products daily.

A guest blog written by Amy Constant, Program Associate of NEED