(Information provided by Lexus Eco Challenge)

McKINNEY — While most people are thinking how to get some extra green this year, some students at Evans Middle School received some green for thinking green.

Two science teams are two of 32 teams from across the country to earn $10,000 in scholarships and grants in the Lexus Eco Challenge, an educational program and contest that inspires and empowers young people to learn about the environment and take action to improve it. Both Evans Middle School teams are now qualified to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance at one of two $30,000 grand prizes.

While it’s rare for just one school team to win, Evans Middle School has two winning teams. The winning entry for the Green Jobs team focused on creating programs that mentor and guide youth toward jobs in the green sector. They held their own “Green Jobs Summit” where they invited experts in environmental engineering, a researcher from the Zero Energy Lab at UNT and the CEO of Pavegen Energy in London via Skype, to speak with students on what it takes to get an internship or job in the green jobs sector, so students can focus on a path of study at a young age to be competitive in this market. The “Passive Solar Sunday” team created an event that focused on reducing energy waste on a day of the week when homes use the most energy, when everyone is home, spending time as a family. They encouraged people to turn off a light and open their blinds to let in natural “passive solar” light. Area businesses joined in the movement, and before they knew it, the movement went viral on twitter getting attention from Princeton University, DoSomething.org, and government offices as far away as Spain and Nigeria, with celebrities and politicians alike joining the “Passive Solar Sunday” movement. 

“After winning first place in the national competition last year, students were eagerly lined up to give their projects a chance at making community impact and defending our title. Winning a scholarship was just the icing on the cake," said teacher and team advisor Kimberly Church. "What’s inspiring is that in just two short months, these 8th grade students have already won 12 scholarships, and still counting, all while making lasting social imprints on widespread levels. It’s amazing to see them accomplish so much at such a young age, and hopefully these seeds we plant now will bloom into mighty oaks as they continue to harness their potential and leadership skills through academic contests such as these.”

For each of the challenges, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results.

“Through the Lexus Eco Challenge teens continue to prove they can change the world, starting with their community,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “In the Final Challenge of this competition we task the teams to impact the world at large. It’s exciting to see teens put their passion behind a plan.”

The Final Challenge will take place December 2013 through January 2014 with winners announced in February 2014. Our community wishes luck to Mrs. Church and her students, Tyler Bagby, Joshua Baldwin, Kenna Bartholomew, Dawson Duffey, Joseline Garcia, Ryan McCoy, Kayley Montes and Albin Myscich on their journey to the national title. 

For more information on the Lexus Eco Challenge, visit scholastic.com/lexus.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.