3rd and 4th Grade Students WIN with SAVE THE POLAR BEARS!

Polaris 3rd and 4th grade students won the Judges’ Award at the 2013 Climate Cycle Soiree on Saturday, February 23rd, 2013, competing with high school students from Walter Payton, Westinghouse, and Curie High School! The prize was presented to Polaris students by NPR’s Jerome McDonnell for their work in exploring the current threat to polar bears and their action plan to make a difference.  One judge commented, “I am floored at the high level of reasoning that both Polaris groups displayed. For such young kids, they identified issues, answered questions with ease, and seemed truly connected to their projects. These are kids who WILL make a difference.”

Polaris students recently learned that the habitat of our school mascot, the beloved polar bear, is in critical danger due to global warming. The ice is melting at an alarming rate; without ice, polar bears are unable to hunt or breed, threatening their future.

Investigating further, students learned that one of the causes of global warming is electricity use. They immediately set out to reduce the energy use of Polaris Charter Academy.  To understand current energy usage, the 3rd and 4th grade students conducted a school-wide energy audit, assessing the amount of energy used by the number of electrical plugs being used in each room and the number of lights in each room. Students collected actual electricity usage data from Polaris’ building engineer to use as the baseline.

Upon graphing the results, students identified very easy actions to save energy, such as reducing light usage and unplugging electronics over the weekend. By the end of the year, students will perform another audit to measure the improvement, incorporating electricity usage data to prove the impact.

Polaris 3rd and 4th graders are taking their efforts further, with an investment in power strips and CFL lighting to reduce energy usage. On Tuesday, February 27th, students led the celebration of “International Polar Bear Day” to bring awareness to the whole school. Students raised over $500, which will be used to adopt polar bears for each Polaris crew!