The weekend of April 26-27, 2014, was a busy and productive one for the Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation Student Ambassadors (SAM) Program. Three SAMs were in Washington, DC for the annual USA Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF) and EPA P3 Sustainable Design EXPO, and five spent that Sunday at the GreenFestival in New York City.
The Science and Engineering Festival is the nation’s most important event dedicated to educating America’s youth about the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. Its sponsors include many of the leading U.S. corporations, nonprofits, and educational institutions, and its Congressional Host Committee consists of prominent Senators and Representatives. The turnout for the 2014 combined DC events was equally impressive: some 325,000 people visited the 3,000+ exhibits in the mammoth Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
One of those exhibits was staffed by CELF SAMs – high school students from across New York City and Westchester County, including Eastchester High School students Sinead Hennessy and Maura Phelan. Their mission was twofold: to educate visitors about the world’s growing clean-water crisis and to demonstrate two innovative solutions for developing nations. The exhibit included demonstrations of LifeStraw® water filters from Vestergaard Frandsen - the table-top Community capable of purifying 100,000 liters of contaminated water and the individual straw which purifies up to 1,000 liters - and PackH2O, created by a team from GREIF working closely with NGOs to consult with women from Haiti – which provides a clean, efficient way for villagers to transport water from the source to the home. As seen here (left), the SAMs spent three packed days running the booth (on Friday the Festival was open to K-12 schoolchildren, on Saturday and Sunday to the general public). The numbers are a good indicator of their success in educating people. They handed out some 1,600 cups of filtered water while themselves drinking more than 30 gallons of murky water.
The booth itself was a mark of the success of CELF’s Student Ambassador Program. It was part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) Sustainable Design Competition and EXPO, held in conjunction with the USASEF, which consisted of 35 competing college teams, each Phase I winners in EPA’s sustainable design competition. Each Phase II award-winning team is recommended for a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design, apply it to real world situations, and bring it to the marketplace. The SAMs were the only high school students included in this program.
For more on the SAM Program and event calendar, visit celfeducation.org/specialevents.html.