Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hanahan Middle School saves sea turtles

Hanahan Middle School (HMS) has won the South East Regionals of the Lexus Eco Challenge for the second consecutive year and has been invited to participate in the final round competing against 15 other schools nationwide for $30,000. Team members include 8th graders Sarah Chandler, Robby Cooper, Amber Dove, Kileigh Joseph, Erika MacGregor, Jonelle Miller, Savannah Moore, Pe'ton Wright and are led by 7th grade science teacher Alexandra Davis.

For the final round, the HMS team is focusing on saving sea turtles, specifically South Carolina's state reptile, the loggerhead sea turtle. This threatened species nests on our beaches each summer. Over the years, their populations have declined due to manmade pressures including coastal development and litter. In order to help save sea turtles, the team hopes to spread this message though various projects.

HMS was challenged to bring in plastic grocery bags to recycle instead of sending to the landfill. They rose to that challenge and brought in a total of 12,700 bags! To replace these bags, reusable bags were sold to raise money for SEWEE. With over 100 sold so far, you can still purchase a turtle bag for only $2.

The Eco Challenge Team visited Hanahan City Council to promote the ban of mass balloon releases in SC by presenting a petition of over 80 community signatures. Letters were also sent to local representatives in support of the bill currently on the House floor. Eco Challenge and Jr. Beta teamed up with Clean City Sweep and cleaned up Brittlebank Park. Being a marsh front park, it is important to pick up the litter before it reaches the oceans. We collected 34 bags of trash, 4 tires, 2 large pieces of dock, and several other interesting items. The team is currently painting a trash can which will be placed in the park promoting the message "Keep it clean as can be, for the turtles of the sea".

The team's favorite part of the project was visiting the South Carolina Aquarium where they learned how to diagnose sick and injured sea turtles in a classroom laboratory and visited the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital to watch the 19 patients being fed. They also raised funds to become Stranded Turtle Adoptive Parents to current turtle patients and collected various wish list items to donate to the hospital.

If you would like to learn more about the team's efforts and see their interviews with local scientists, visit them on Facebook http://on.fb.me/gofSsP and YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/ecochallenge2011.

Together we can make a difference.

Alexandra Davis
7th Grade Science
Hanahan Middle School