The 2014-2015 school year yielded a number of exciting submissions to our annual Class Act program. From students looking to brighten the days of their classmates and community through art, to school fundraising efforts for local nonprofits, Random Acts was floored by the number of thoughtful projects that young people across the globe were able to put together, both alone and with their instructors, in order to spread kindness and positivity to the world.
One of those submissions, however, stood out significantly in its unique creativity and thoughtful environmental-friendliness. The pure motivation and love that went into the project was evident. That’s why, for this year’s challenge, we’re happy to announce that our Class Act winners are none other than Christa McAuliffe School students Kaylee Hutchinson, Angela Vitale, Karishma Patel, and Malaika Aziz of Team Phrag Attack!
What They Did
As part of their school’s student-created STEM initiative, Project Reservoir, the team of middle school students spent the past school year working on their own scientific experiments and conservation projects, which included an effort to reduce the local Phragmite (perennial wetland grasses often found near reservoirs and marshes) population.
“We visited our local semi-abandoned reservoir and noticed that there were many wheat-like plants in the area,” wrote the group in April. “Our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to ask our mentors about it. They explained to us that they were called phragmites … an invasive plant that present environmental concerns in land, water and living things. People have techniques that they use to get rid of the plants, but some can be dangerous.”
As part of their group project, the Phrag Attack team attempted to find ways of upcycling the plants themselves, teaching other classrooms and students the tricks of the trade. In addition to their art initiative, the team also explored other methods of reusing the plants in positive, environmentally friendly ways, such as creating “Phragbales” for algae treatment, and stomping out paths to the reservoir in order to create trails and simultaneously keep the Phragmite population from booming again in the spring. Those efforts also managed to capture the attention of NOVA, which later featured them on its television show, SciTech Now.
“We want to spread our knowledge about Phragmites all over the world,” wrote the group. “We ultimately want to help out our community and [help] the world realize just how useful these plants can be — we want to make a difference in the world.”
Their next goal, of course, is ambitious too — to make paper with the Phragmites. Seeing how far they’ve come in a single school year, there’s no doubt that they’ll eventually succeed in bringing that knowledge and environmental consciousness to everyone they meet.
Congratulations, Team Phrag Attack!
**Our official runners-up list can be found both below and on the Kindness Files:
Give HOMES: North Sydney Girls High School (Submitted by Cordelia Hsu)
Thirst Project: Arbor View High School (Submitted by Tiffany Whitlock)
Kindness Project: Vancouver Talmud Torah (Submitted by Shoshana Burton)
Art Friends: John R. Hummel Elementary School (Submitted by Emily Morse)