Students advance in Lexus Eco Challenge, win $10K

This eight-member team at Endeavour Middle School were one of only eight middle school teams selected nationwide as winners of Round Two of the Lexus Eco Challenge.

This eight-member team at Endeavour Middle School was one of only eight middle school teams selected nationwide as winners of Round Two of the Lexus Eco Challenge.

LANCASTER – Eight students from Endeavour Middle School have made it through the second stage of the Lexus Eco Challenge for the 2012-2013 with their team “Renewable Ravens”. By progressing through this stage, they have won $10,000 in grants and scholarships.

The team was led by 7th grade Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher Stacy Zelenski.

“I was in a bit of shock and awe,” said Zelenski. “I believed in my students, but to find out we won was so awesome! The students were so excited.”

The Renewable Ravens focused on renewable energy. They coordinated a school-wide carpool day and a door decorating contest for every homeroom’s grade level.

When asked why they chose renewable energy, Zelenski explained, “We live in an area that utilizes renewable energy such as wind and solar. Currently all area schools have been equipped with solar panels, and we are close to Tehachapi that hosts wind farms.”

The team consisted of Elora G., Ethan E., Kirsten B., Victoria D., Amaya B., Jordan S., Hailey C., and Joseph C. from Lancaster. Zelenski taught the group for 6th grade and remains their current STEM teacher.

The contest winnings will be used to enhance the STEM academy, which reaches around 210 students. It will also replace the consumables and purchased items required for the final competition. The students will also be receiving a portion of the winnings for their own use.

“The students have all indicated their monies will be spent wisely,” says Zelenski. “Save some for college! Make a contribution to their church, cancer cure research, and other foundations. But kids will be kids…spending their money on something fun like a computer, car, contact lens, or Storm Intercept Cruiser.”

The Renewable Ravens mascot drawn by students.

The Renewable Ravens mascot drawn by students.

The Renewable Ravens will be participating in the Final Challenge, which asks students to address an environmental topic that affects the world at large. The first place and grand-prize winning teams will be announced in spring 2013.

Feedback and data is being collected for the Renewable Raven’s final project, as they intend to delve deeper into the renewable energy idea.

Endeavor Middle School is looking to participate in the Lexus Eco Challenge in the future, and is even open to expanding to further competitions.

“I have an additional 50 students, or more, who are disappointed that they did not have a chance to participate, and are already making sure they have opportunities to participate next year,” said Zelenski. “I also now have students coming to me and introducing possible competitions that we can enter! Furthermore, I have a great group of parents who are now helping search for competitions!”

The Lexus Eco Challenge is an opportunity that allows young people to learn about the environment, as well as work to improve it. Scholastic and Lexus work together for this program and contest. A total of $500,000 in grants and scholarships will be awarded by Lexus throughout the 2012-2013 program. It includes high school and middle school teams.

“The commitment and devotion shown by the students through their projects is remarkable. We’re thrilled at Lexus that we can continue to support the program and encourage young students to take action to better the environment,” said Lexus group vice president and general manager, Mark Templin, in the contest release.

The Lexus Eco Challenge is a part of the Lexus Pursuit of Potential, which is an initiative that generates up to $3 million in donations annually. These donations are used to help build, shape, and improve children’s lives.

The winning action plans will be featured at