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May 10, 2011 > Local students are finalists in 'Change the World Challenge'

Local students are finalists in 'Change the World Challenge'

Story and article submitted by Kate Taylor

The Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the College Board, named Fremont's William Hopkins Junior High's team "Sustain" as the middle school state finalist of the third annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. Hopkins was selected as the state finalist for their project on eliminating or decreasing unnecessary and overuse of antibacterial soap in the community. The national challenge aims to educate, empower and engage students and teachers to become "Agents of Change" in improving their communities.

Over 2,800 middle school students competed in this year's Challenge. Projects ranged from decreasing cafeteria waste to creating programs to clean up polluted community lakes and rivers. A panel of environmental advocates and science educators selected finalists based on the project's ability to creatively engage their communities and resolve a local environmental issue.

Under the guidance of a teacher or mentor, students were tasked with identifying an environmental issue in their community, researching the issue using the scientific method and creating a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education. The Hopkins team learned that the community's continuing overuse of antibacterial soap, has given rise to an antibiotic-resistant super bacteria. They conducted an experiment testing antibacterial soap vs. non-antibacterial soap, and the results indicated that non-antibacterial soaps are just as effective at cleaning as antibacterial soaps.

"It is important to showcase projects like 'Sustain' which exemplify the creative perspectives middle school students have toward environmental change. In their project, 'Sustain' made a difference by working to decrease the unnecessary usage of antibacterial soap in the community," said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation. "The Siemens Foundation and its partners are proud to honor these students and their mentors for ingenuity, originality and their efforts to initiate real environmental change."

"Sustain" has already won a Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge green prize pack and is in the running for the grand prize of a $10,000 Savings Bond, a Discovery Adventures trip to Costa Rica and a pocket video camera to capture highlights of their trip.

This year's national winners will be announced on May 18. For more information on the Challenge, visit

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