Middle school pupils from eastern Georgia and South Carolina recently converged in Thomson for the eighth annual Eco-Meet Challenge.
Pupils from Davidson Fine Arts, Greenbrier, Lake-side, Merriwether (North Augusta), Thomson, Westview (Greenwood, S.C.) and Wrens middle schools competed in environmental science challenges May 2.
"Even if you didn't get a single question right, you were all learning and having a good time, and that's what is important," said Ruth Meade, the senior education specialist for the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, to the pupils as they assembled to hear the winners announced.
Held on the grounds of the Watson-Brown Foundation in Thomson and created by the Environmental Science Education Cooperative, the meet consisted of six hands-on testing stations staffed by members of the cooperative and covering topics such as monarch butterflies, archaeology, birds, hydroelectric power, wild turkeys and Carolina bays. Each school was represented by several teams of four pupils.
First place went to Westview Middle School, with 223 points. Second place went to the Davidson Fine Arts team, with 212 points. Third place went to Thomson Middle School, with 207 points.
"I'm so impressed with these little people I spend my days with," said Susan Timmerman, the coach of the Westview team. "All three of my teams won something, but winning first overall is beyond everything I had imagined."
Each winning team received medals, a trophy, nature guides and a gift certificate to Acorn Naturalist, and Westview also received a microscope.
Each pupil on the winning team for each individual station received a medal.
Before the competition, each participating school team could submit a PowerPoint presentation on alternative energy sources. The Westview blue team won that competition, also.
Caity White, a seventh-grader at Westview, said she had incentive to work extra hard at the meet because her older brother, Parker, had won an award two years ago.
"This morning, he told me we wouldn't even come close to winning anything like they did, and we won two awards," Caity said. "So now, I'm just going to go home and rub it in his face."
The challenge was developed for sixth- through eighth-graders by the cooperative to promote excellence in environmental education, and combines the efforts of 28 nonprofit organizations in the area.
The 2009 event will take place at Spirit Creek Educational Forest. For more information , call Cathy Black, of the forest, at (706) 790-2351 or Cheryl Winn, of the cooperative, at (706) 821-0224.
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