After a nationwide search for the best and brightest sustainable school-improvement ideas, three students have been selected as the winners of the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) “Be Like Jack” sustainability contest. Each student won $2,000 for their school to implement their sustainable idea, and one grand-prize winner has earned a visit from The Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli, for a science assembly.
Eloise Saddler, 9, from Meiklejohn Elementary in Arvada, Colorado, is the grand-prize winner for her idea to plant more trees at her school to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and save water by providing shade to the grass.
Evelyna Rozenfeld, 11, from Beck Junior High in Katy, Texas, is the finalist in the 10-11 age group for her idea to add composting to her school to reduce the amount of food waste.
Grant Seaton, 13, of Lone Oak Middle School in Paducah, Kentucky, is the finalist in the 12-14 age group for his idea to add an outdoor learning space that encourages environmental awareness.
“We were overwhelmed by the hundreds of thoughtful, creative, and impactful responses we received from students across the country who all share a passion to create a cleaner future. At PERC, we share that passion, too,” said Steve Whaley, PERC’s director of autogas business development. “It’s our goal to ensure that every child has a safe, clean, healthy ride to school on a near-zero emissions propane autogas school bus. If schools implement propane buses with these great ideas from their students, children can experience a sustainable school day from the moment they get on the bus, to the moment they return home.”
Calandrelli, an MIT-engineer turned Emmy-nominated science TV host and co-executive producer of Emily’s Wonder Lab on Netflix, will visit Saddler’s school later this year for an assembly featuring the importance of sustainability.
“The more we inspire students at a young age to think big about our world, the brighter their future will be,” said Calandrelli. “It’s exciting to think what they will accomplish as champions of the environment. I’m looking forward to meeting Eloise and hearing all about her sustainability ideas."
The “Be Like Jack” sustainability contest is named in honor of Jack Kendrick, a student from South Carolina that successfully petitioned his school district to purchase the state’s first propane-powered special needs school bus. Compared to modern diesel buses, propane autogas buses reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions by 96%. Propane autogas school buses also have the lowest total cost-of-ownership of any fuel, saving districts money that can go back into the classroom.