Chesapeake Bay

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Purple Martin Towers

2022, Herndon, Virginia, USA

We are the Herndon Elementary School Bee’s Green Team! In 2022 we won 1st place in the Chesapeake Bay Caring for Our watershed contest with our project, “Purple Martin Project” and we installed 2 purple martin towers on our school property with funding from this competition. Why? This bird species has been declining and plays a vital role in improving the biodiversity of ecosystems in our community and around the world.

Now, we are expanding our idea to help others build Purple Martin Towers in their communities in order to help the Purple Martins thrive there. As the international idea for the 2022-23 school year, Purple Martin towers will be installed in each CFW region internationally! We are excited to continue to work as a school, and throughout other schools along the Purple Martin’s migratory path, to manage and monitor the tower and species with a bird watching area.

Check out our demonstration of setting up and cleaning out your purple martin towers here:

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Native Plant Stormwater Garden

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student action2019, Timonium, Maryland, USA

The Green Club of Ridgely Middle School’s plan for improving the quality of the Chesapeake watershed is growing a stormwater garden that contains plants native to Maryland. The people involved in this proposal are Riya Mahale and Sunny Shen. The garden’s purpose is to absorb some of the runoff that eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. According to National Geographic, runoff is an overflow of water. It occurs when the land is unable to absorb any more water and the excess water runs across the land, eventually ending up in a body of water, like a bay or river. In this case, it is the Chesapeake Bay.

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student actionUnfortunately, whatever pollutants the runoff contained also ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. This damages the Chesapeake watershed and the ecosystems that rely on it.

This proposal aims to improve the quality of our watershed by reducing the amount of runoff that feeds into the Bay. The garden would be at the base of a hill at Ridgely Middle School where excess  water would collect after rain. There, the plants in the garden would be able to efficiently soak up some of the runoff and the pollutants in it before it reaches the Chesapeake.

Stormwater Garden Chesapeake Bay student action

The garden is going to be completely made up of plants native to Maryland. Having a garden completely compiled of native plants means that there won’t be a risk of invasive plants spreading and harming the native ecosystem. The garden would be able to support those ecosystems native to Maryland. Students at Ridgely Middle would also have exposure to native wildlife. The garden will be quite large, as it will have an area of 100 ft2 and a perimeter of 20 feet.

For a project so beneficial to the watershed and its ecosystems, it is relatively uncostly if one already has a basic set of gardening tools. Because all the plants are native, there is no risk of invasion and native ecosystems are supported. Native stormwater gardens are not only an environmentally conscious and simple way of reducing watershed pollution, but they are also practical, making them a good choice for helping watersheds and the species that rely on them.

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Project Nature

2019, Berlin, Maryland, USA

Ten students from Berlin Intermediate School (BIS) (Heydein, Makai, Amber, Shane, Brandon, Brooklyn, Sage, Domnic, Lilah, Declan) created Project Nature in the Spring of 2019. The goal of Project Nature was to assess BIS’ school grounds and implement best management practices to improve their local Coastal Bays’ watershed. After weeks of research, democratically voting, and schoolground surveys, the students decided to undertake a three-part plan.

  1. Plant a pollinator garden to promote native plants and encourage bees, birds, bats, and bugs to use the space.
  2. Revitalize a neglected school trail through pine forest. This trail will be used as an outdoor learning space for teachers to bring their classes. The Project Nature students will clear the trails of common green briar, mulch the pathway, and plant native plants at the entrance.
  3. Plant native trees around the otherwise open school grounds. These trees will provide needed shade and work as absorbers of stormwater runoff from the surrounding impervious surfaces.

Following the completion of their three-part project, students will create flyers to inform their student body and teachers of Project Nature. Their project video is also available for years to come on YouTube, so teachers and parents can view what the 2019 Project Nature students implemented to make their school grounds more environmentally friendly.

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Reduce, Reuse and Upcycle!

2019, Woodbridge, Virginia, USA

Lake Ridge Middle School recently underwent an expansion of the school in order to house more students. During this expansion, an outdoor courtyard was created. In 2017-2018, the Ecology Club created a raised vegetable garden to help students experience the growth of food and caring for the Earth. This school year (2018-2019), the club wanted to focus on how to care for our waterways, while still adding to our garden and the biodiversity seen around our school.

The students decided to take trash from the school grounds and dumpsters and turn it into gardening tools and containers. Items bound for landfills and in storm drains can unintentionally make their way to our watershed, the nearby Occoquan River.

reduce reuse recycle implementation Chesapeake Bay

The students hope that by taking discarded items and turning them into beautiful plant containers, fencing and a rain barrel they will be able to reduce the amount of trash in the Occoquan, inspire other students and staff to upcycle materials in beneficial ways and increase the number of beneficial plants and insects in our area.

reduce reuse recycle implementation Chesapeake BayMany of our students are disconnected from nature. In a recent school survey, over 80% of students reported spending less than 15 minutes a day outside. This removal from the outside world impacts how the kids view the Earth and challenges that society faces with environmental issues. The students in the Ecology Club are using this courtyard garden to teach the other students at school about pollution, it’s impact on our water and soil, the importance of pollination and pollinators, biodiversity and where food comes from. It is not a complicated project, but it is profoundly changing how some students will approach their natural world. Their hope is for a cascade effect. They want to clean our local grounds and use that trash to beautify the garden by planting herbs and flowers in it. That it will increase the number of insects and birds in the garden and inspire the humans at school to do the same.

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Recycling and Repurposing Electronics

2018-2019, Arlington, Virginia, USA

Recycling and Repurposing Electronics at Kenmore Middle SchoolValeria, Ashley, Iliana, Zaneya, Frank, Emmett, Connor, Jamethiel, Valery, Brady, and Talin were bothered by all the electronic being thrown away.  Many contain components that leak toxins into the watershed.  They hoped that by collecting unwanted electronics they could repurpose some and safely recycle others.

To improve their watershed, they wanted to recycle old phones, computers, tablets, and batteries in their school and community; but after weeks of research, they are limiting themselves to only accepting phones, batteries, and tablets.

They have approval from their principal to put shelves in their school lobby where people can put their old electronics.  Staples has agreed to take the tablets every other week.  If they happen to come across computers, Staples will take a few.

Their in-school police detective will take reusable phones to the Witness and Victim Protection Program so they can be used by victims of domestic violence.  If there are broken phones they can’t use, they plan to put them on for people who want parts.  Apple will take back any of their devices that are broken.  Arlington County will take their batteries. They made a request that the county take the computers, but after many conversations, they sadly declined; but they can publicize the services the county has for recycling.

Another part of their recycling solution is to distribute flyers that say what to recycle in their county. They will give the magnets to every student in the school to share with families.  Another class has asked if they can give out their magnets as prizes to people who recycle.

Conclusion: Recycling electronics will helps the environment by taking out the lithium batteries that might cause a fire or explosion and the metals and plastic that would just end up in the trash. Old electronics pollute the environment and could cause horrendous impacts on the earth.  Recycling will keep toxic chemicals out of the water supply.

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Project RORG (Run Off Rain Garden)

2019, Hernandon, Virginia, USA

Project RORG (Run Off Rain Garden)

For several months, David, Elizabeth, Pranith, Tadek, Shamiya, Kheya and Tapthi, who make up Team RORG (Run Off Rain Garden) have been researching, designing and implementing their project.

The two original sites were chosen because of they were in an appropriate spot for a rain garden and were cleared by Miss Utility for excavation. However, after boring multiple spots to test the soil, it was determined the soil was too rocky for a rain garden.

The benefits of the project are a significant amount of future run-off in the project area watershed will be captured by the hybrid rain garden where sediment and pollutants will be removed, and most of the water will have time to percolate into the ground rather than rushing the Horsepen Creek, causing additional erosion.

Project RORG (Run Off Rain Garden)

Three additional sites were chosen, all of which receive run-off from uphill areas. The three sites were cleared by Miss Utility and soil bore tests were performed. Due to the rockiness of the soil it was decided that a modification off the current design would be best. After additional research, a hybrid design featuring coconut fiber biologs as check dams was adopted.

Technical assistance and on-site consultation has been given by Mr. Daniel Schwartz, a soil scientist with the NoVa Soil & Water Conservation District, who has also arranged a survey of the current project site.

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Utensil Replacement

2018-2019 Arlington, Virginia, USA

Alexy, Jonathan, Byron, Emma, Ashlee, Marcus, Mifra, Nathaly, Jason, Mirhran, Gabe, Taylor, Bryan, Katherine noted that their school cafeteria used plastic straws, plastic sporks, and paper napkins wrapped in plastic packages.

They proposed to replace them with separate options of single paper straws packaged in paper, biodegradable corn-based sporks, and paper napkins in dispensers, like in a restaurant.  They plan to put in paper towel dispensers for really bad spills.  That will save on using too many napkins.

The group will encourage students and staff to drink right from the cartons instead of using straws, but they will have paper straws available for those who want them.This will make a positive change to the watershed because the school will be reducing plastic and recycling paper and corn.

The group also hopes to educate people on the harm they are causing by using plastic straws, utensils and packaging. Maybe other schools will cut down too, causing the overall amount of plastic to decrease. This means the watershed will be no longer be harmed by the cafeteria and community trash each day.

Utensil replacement implementation

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Save the Forest

2018-2019, Arlington, Virginia, USA

save the forest implementation

Dante, Rodrigo, Elle, Karin, Lauren, Corey, Simon, Ann, Burak, Raphael, and Sam were concerned that invasive species were killing trees and destroying their ability to filter water.  They researched species that were causing the problems in Four Mile Run, which empties into the Potomac River.

The students focused their attention on eliminating kudzu and bamboo shoots from the park near their school. They intend to cut the kudzu and uproot the bamboo shoots.  It is their hope that the healthy trees will be able to reduce the FCB and other pollutants in the runoff to the stream. The students have a further plan to add trees and bushes to the areas around the school.    

Now that the students can identify these invasive species, they will be able to protect trees and shrubs. The students have said they believe they will be able to educate their families and friends to help balance the natural filtration system for the watershed.

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Pathways & Trashcans

Pathways and Trashcans implementation2019, Timonium, Maryland, USA

Ridgely’s green club is creating a pathway at our school and decorating trashcans to be placed near the pathway. The people doing this project were Natalie, Molly, Julia, and Lauren. This is very important because it lessens the pollution that affects our watershed. The pathway would be made from stepping stones, so it would prevent pollutants from draining into streams. The trashcans would keep rivers clean.

To improve the watershed, there will be decorated trashcans and colorful stepping stones on the school grounds. One solution will be a work of art that will help improve water quality.

Pathways and Trashcans implementation

The trashcans will be painted and maintained by the Green Club. The stepping stones will each be multiple small rocks combined into one stepping stone. Ridgely students and staff will also be painting the stepping stones.

This project will not take too long to complete but its effects will be long lasting. The trashcans will stay at our school for many years and will decrease the amount of litter. The stepping stones will be long lasting and will allow for pathways to be made without hurting our environment.

This is a local project that will mostly affect Ridgely Middle School. Our pathway will be near a storm drain so it will prevent runoff into that storm drain. new trashcans. We will also tell students where the trashcans will be located. We will also speak to students on how stepping stones are better for our watershed than sidewalks.

The materials that are needed for the trashcans are paint, paintbrushes, and trashcans. The materials that are needed for the stepping stones are paint, paintbrushes, and stones. Since we need paintbrushes for both the trashcans and stepping stones, we can reuse the paintbrushes. The total cost will be $253.06.

In conclusion Ridgley’s green club is making a stepping stone walkway at our school and painting trashcans to be placed around the walkway. This is highly important, so we can decrease the litter that enters our watershed.

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Bio Retention Cell

2019, Fairfax, VA, USA

Students: Lauren Dick-Peddie, Elder Hernandez, Nathaniel Kirk-Popham, Maya Littman, Myles Jones

What if there was a way to filter water of sediments and chemicals when it goes into the ground? We see that a bio- retention cell is beneficial for maintaining and improving our watershed health. In order to help, we would like to revitalize the bio-retention cell at our school. A bio-retention cell is a rain garden with a rock pit before it, which acts as barrier to collect sediment while also stopping runoff and providing water to plants. Our bio-retention cell, needs maintenance, with planting of new native species and adding rocks too. One of the results we hope to achieve is to filter out nitrites, sediment, and garbage before it reaches Virginia’s rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

When repurposing the bio-retention cell we made it our goal to involve more people than just us alone. We have over a thousand students, who can get involved through volunteering with the after school eco-club. We can reach out to this audience by advertising and promoting eco-club, emphasizing on the incentive to get involved. We will organize community service days to engage the wider community and volunteers.

Bio Retention Cell project Not only do we want this project to benefit Lanier but we wish to expand this wonder all across the county. We believe that all schools should have the chance to experience and help care for our watershed. We will invite students from our feeder elementary school and volunteer form our high school as well. After all, the Chesapeake Bay is something shared of six states and we should, and will, treasure it!

The bio-retention cell has many environmental benefits. It is able to take in a lot of water which helps it filter out a big amount of sediment that comes from runoff water. Since there will be a layer of rocks to prevent any litter from coming through the runoff, water pollution will be reduced. With our cell and hopefully more to come, not only does it reduce the amount of trash getting into our bay, but it also reduces other pollutants such as road salt, sediment and animal feces.