Eighth graders teach about STEM competition project

HOUGHTON — Houghton Middle School Students are doing their part to educate younger students about the importance of our ecosystem.

Every year, Lexus holds the Eco Challenge. It’s a STEM competition for grades six through twelve, and it gives middle and high school students the opportunity to present their innovative solutions to real world problems involving our eco system.

“The one we are focusing on finishing this week is the land and water project where we investigated soil and water quality and the impacts of human use of fertilizers on the water,” said Houghton Middle School Science Teacher Sarah Geborkoffs.

The auto manufacturer annually awards $500,000 in grants and scholarships to winning teams. The areas of focus are land, air, water, and climate. Of those categories, students come up with creative ways to balance ecology.

“When you use fertilizer, there are like a lot of nitrates which are good for plants however there are too many,” said 8th grade science student Leah Berkey.

“Excess nitrates can stunt plant growth, but normally the plants just don’t suck them up and they get carried away by runoff,” said 8th grade science student Mercedes Gregersen.

“So we have tested different plants around the borders of gardens that could absorb the run off before it reaches the water system,” added Berkey.

Geborkoffs’s 8th grade science class has won a national finalist prize for the past two years in a row, and is working hard for a three-peat. This level of the competition continues through early
December with the finalist round beginning in January and continues into March of next year.

To learn more about the Lexus Eco Challenge, click HERE.