April 1, 2011 by wcobserver
GREENLAND- Eight high school students took a break from solving real life problems in the classroom to rake in a few awards in Hot Springs at the annual Environmental and Spatial Technologies (EAST) Conference which was held March 1-3.
After spending about three and a half hours setting up a booth they designed themselves, the students presented their EAST projects to judges, students and visitors at the conference which was attended by approximately 2,000 students from 194 schools throughout the nation.
“I liked the experience of having to be professional…only 8 of us were there and having to represent the whole school. If we screw up, the whole school looks bad,” said sophomore Lori Starr who attended the conference for the second time.
Ryan Duchanois and Dustin Oakes took first place in the ESRI competition for their bus mapping project. The duo examined Greenland’s bus routes and using a mapping process, identified the most efficient routes, reducing carbon monoxide and gas consumption while getting the kids to and from school faster. Duchanois said the duo received about $25,000 worth of software and a map book as prizes.
Bret Arnold and Dustin Barton won first place in the Audubon Arkansas Natural Leader Award for their continued rain garden and natural habitat work that helps protect Ward’s Slew from run-off contamination from the school’s roof and parking lots. It’s the second consecutive year that Greenland High School has won the Arkansas Audubon Society’s leadership award.
The school also received a superior rating for its EAST Program. Duchanois says the EAST program was started in Greenland in 1999 and the school has received a superior rating every year except for one.
“I definitely learned the most…not only what EAST is all about, but realized how much bigger this is than our school,” said Jeff Overdorf, a junior, who moved here last year from New York.
“I liked meeting all the people and seeing all the other schools booths,’ said Jan Fenten who attended the conference for the first time.
Students in Greenland’s EAST lab are also working on several other projects including developing a virtual refrigerator that will tell you when your food has expired, or recycling computers.
“We actually used some of the computer parts for our booth this year, which is pretty cool, said Brett Arnold.
Dustin Barton said they’re also working on ridding the school of Styrofoam which he says is used as lunch trays for ala carte items in the cafeteria each day.
“It’s not only bad for the environment, it’s bad for you,” Barton said who plans to appeal to the school’s superintendent and school board to stop purchasing Styrofoam.
Overdorf says he’s found the EAST Classroom as “a place to express your ideas.”
According to the EAST Project website, EAST is a “national initiative focused on student-driven projects using the latest in technology.” Students find problems in their local communities, and then use state of the art technology and tools to solve for them. The program in Greenland is facilitated by John Diesel.