Lexus and Scholastic Launch Fifth Annual Environmental Contest with $500,000 in Grants and Scholarships to be Awarded
"The Lexus Eco Challenge has helped change the way I teach," said Debbie Viertel, a teacher from Lawton Chiles Middle School in Lakeland, Fla. "By giving my students a real-world challenge, they come up with something they care about. Then they learn all the things I want them to learn in math and science, but the difference is that now they care. It’s a wonderful program."
Last year’s grand-prize-winning middle and high school teams demonstrated how passionate students and great ideas can inspire an entire community and improve the environment globally. Educating the community about the contamination of lobsters in local and global waters and raising money to purchase solar panels for their school and encouraging others to look into renewable energy were the two top winning projects.
"Last year the students and teachers went above and beyond the scope of the Lexus Eco Challenge," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "We’re eager to see what the fifth year will bring us. Every year, we see the students and their teachers being more resourceful and committed to their projects. It’s wonderful to see how the Lexus Eco Challenge is making an impact on their schools, community and our environment.”
The Challenge has two distinct elements:
- Standards-based supplementary educational materials – encourages teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment.
- Competition to reward environmental action – helps young people apply what they’ve learned in class through the program and empowers them to make improvements in their community by participating in the environmental team challenges.
The Challenges and Rewards
For each of the challenges, teams define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report the results. Submission deadlines are: Challenge #1 (Land/Water) – Oct. 31, 2011 and Challenge #2 (Air/Climate) – Dec. 19, 2011.
Each of the challenges will have 16 winning teams – eight middle school and eight high school teams. The winning teams will each receive a total of $10,000 in scholarships and grants to be shared among the students, teacher and school. In addition, the winning action plans will be featured on a special Web page to inspire other students to take action in their communities.
In early January, the winning teams from the first two challenges will be invited to participate in the Final Challenge. Teams will be asked to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that are communicated to a wide audience. From the Final Challenge entries, eight first-place teams and two grand-prize-winning teams will be selected. Each of the eight first-place teams will receive a total of $15,000 in grants and scholarships, and the two grand-prize-winning teams will each receive $30,000. The money will be shared by the students, their teacher advisors and their schools.
Full program information including official rules and entry details can be viewed at www.scholastic.com/lexus.
In addition to providing teachers with the information necessary to participate in the challenges, the website (www.scholastic.com/lexus) also has extensive tools for them to use in their classrooms. For each challenge, the website has lesson plans and teacher instructions including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.
The Lexus Eco Challenge is part of The Lexus Pursuit of Potential, a philanthropic initiative that generates up to $5 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children’s lives.