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Home | KNDY News | St. Gregory Students Named State Finalists in Siemens ‘We Can Change The World challenge’

St. Gregory Students Named State Finalists in Siemens ‘We Can Change The World challenge’

Marysville, Kan. – The Siemens Foundation, Discovery Education and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) today announced the middle school (grades 6-8) state finalists of the second annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. St. Gregory Catholic School’s Team “Green Bag Girls,” comprised of sixth graders Rachel Frese, Rachel Heiman, Grace Luebcke and Aubrie Peschel along with mentor Mary Richardson from Marysville, has been named Kansas’ finalist for the team’s project on replacing businesses’ plastic bags with reusable bags made from t-shirts.

Over 6,500 middle school students competed in this year’s Challenge, and the projects ranged from reducing algae blooms to saving local trees to encouraging eco-friendly gardens. A panel of environmental advocates and science educators selected finalists based on the project’s ability to creatively engage their communities to resolve a local environmental issue.

“Team ‘Green Bag Girls’ has shown that middle school students can truly impact their communities and drive positive environmental change,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, President of the Siemens Foundation. “The Siemens Foundation and its partners are proud to honor these students for their innovation and dedication in helping to usher in a new era of sustainability.”

Students, under the guidance of a teacher or mentor, were tasked with identifying an environmental issue in their community, researching the issue using scientific investigation and creating a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education.

Team “Green Bag Girls” focused on encouraging businesses to move away from using environmentally harmful plastic bags by creating recycled and reusable bags out of old t-shirts.

“Green Bag Girls” has already won a Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge green prize pack and is in the running for the grand prize of a $10,000 Savings Bond, an appearance on Planet Green—the 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network, a chance to present their program at the United Nations and a Discovery Adventure trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Over 15,000 students have participated in the Challenge since it began in 2008. Last year’s grand prize winner, Team “Dead Weight” from West Branch, Iowa, exposed the dangers of lead wheel weights in vehicles and helped phase out this hazardous material in the tire industry. As the Challenge winners, they had the opportunity to present their project at the United Nations International Youth Day and meet with leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

This year’s national winners will be announced on May 24, 2010. For more information on the Challenge, the state finalists and their projects, visit

About the Siemens Foundation

The Siemens Foundation provides more than $7 million annually in support of educational initiatives in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States. Its signature programs include the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology, Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, and The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages K-12 students to develop innovative green solutions for environmental issues. In February 2010 the Siemens Foundation launched its newest initiative, The Siemens STEM Academy, a national STEM education program for teachers designed to support educators in their efforts to foster student achievement in these fields. By supporting outstanding students today, and recognizing the teachers and schools that inspire their excellence, the Foundation helps nurture tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. The Foundation’s mission is based on the culture of innovation, research and educational support that is the hallmark of Siemens’ U.S. companies and its parent company, Siemens AG. For further information, visit

About Discovery Education

Discovery Communications (DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) revolutionized television with Discovery Channel and is now transforming classrooms through Discovery Education. Powered by the number one nonfiction media company in the world, Discovery Education combines scientifically proven, standards-based digital media and a dynamic user community in order to empower teachers to improve student achievement. Already, more than half of all U.S. schools access Discovery Education digital services. Explore the future of education at

About the National Science Teachers Association

The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA’s current membership includes more than 60,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education. For more information, please visit

About Jeff Ottens