Diamond Bar/Walnut Highlander
By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer
June 6, 2013
Siemens announces finalists at Walnut, Wilson and Diamond Bar High schools
Walnut High students want city council to install Light Emitting Diodes in street lights throughout the city. The Mustangs say Walnut will save money and the environment by using new LED lights. Which is one reason Team E.T. was selected to be a finalist in the Siemens We Can Change The World Challenge. Students were challenged to tackle environmental issues in their own communities and propose solutions. Students environmental issues related to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation and climate. The national contest asked students to create solutions to these environmental problems. Three local high schools participated in the completion and were selected as finalists - Diamond Bar, Wilson in Hacienda Heights and Walnut.
The Walnut team developed a plan to install LEDs in street lights. They said this would reduce energy use and provide environmental benefits. The teens were mentored by teacher Jeri Braviroff.
"We spent the summer brainstorming ideas for the competition," explained senior Paul Sonner. "We thought the LED idea was the best one for us."
So the 18-year-old joined classmates Vivek Shah, Alicia Wei and Elaine Tan to study the environmental benefits of using the latest lighting devices.
"We found that the LED street lights would pay for themselves in three or four years," 17-year-old Wei said. "After that the city would be saving money year after year."
Shah pointed out that LED lights last nearly 20 years, much longer than the conventional lights used to illuminate our city streets. Tan added that the current lights use mercury, a very toxic chemical.
So the team put together a power point and approached city council with their idea. Anchorage, San Diego and Pittsburgh are already using LEDs, according to the local teens.
"Council put us on the agenda and we told them about LED street lights," Sonner said. "They said they would have their staff look into it."
Braviroff noted this was the first time Walnut High has entered the Siemen's Challenge.
"The students have worked hard researching the benefits of LEDs," the high school teacher said. "They even had classmates compare LEDs with compact fluorescent lights to see if they liked the brightness and color. The teens are proud to make the finals their first year out.
Other local finalists include:
Wilson High School
The Hacienda Heights teens decided to reduce their carbon footprint in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner by installing a grass roof. This would cut energy use by providing more insulation. It would also improve air quality through photosynthesis.
The Wildcats say a green roof provides a win-win situation for both the environment and the occupant. It was one way to fight global warming. They were mentored by teacher Jinasha Udeshi.
Diamond Bar High
The Brahmas had four finalists. All were mentored by teacher David Hong. The Diamond Bar teams were honored for these projects:The Bagsters - This team placed collection boxes for hard-to-recycle materials, such as potato chip bags, next to trash cans at its school. It studied whether a recycling campaign got students to recycle. Eco Friends - In an effort to prevent students from throwing trash into recycling bins at its school, the team created special bins with holes at the top so only bottles could fit. AQ2 - This team installed water bottle refilling stations at the high school. They also encouraged the reuse of bottles over plastic. It figures the school could save an estimated 12,500 plastic bottles every year by reducing overall plastic bottle use. The Steampunk Machiavellians - The team decided that its school could reduce the amount of energy used for metal production and aluminum processing by persuading its teachers to use fewer staplers.
The Bagsters team from Diamond Bar High was a finalist in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Siemens Foundation)
Team E.T. from Walnut High School includes Alicia Wei, left, teacher Jeri Braviroff, Elaine Tan, Vivek Shah and Paul Sooner. ( Photo courtesy of Siemens Foundation)