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South Plantation High environmental program inspiring the next green leaders

Solar cars, gardens, an eco-bus as well as a truck that runs on vegetable oil? Most people aren’t using these items today, but students at South Plantation High School (SPHS) are building them. As part of an eight-year-old,

Cong. Klein looks at the solar car built by South Plantation High School.

award-winning magnet program, the students spend four years in various classes related to environmental science.

“We have close to 600 students with a diverse course selection–I think we have the only botany class in Florida,” said Dr. Alice Culpepper, magnet coordinator for SPHS. “We study solar, alternative energy, zoology, plants.”

Culpepper explains that the students take a research class in their freshman year that is an overview of the Everglades, since Florida is home to this only resource of its kind, and includes water quality, ecology, flora, fauna, everything Everglades, and take four major field trips off site for learning. Other students run the Everglades Restoration Ambassadors program, in which students take a bus with different environmental displays to teach other students as well as bringing the students to the school for hands on learning. On Monday, Oct. 5, U.S. Congressman Ron Klein took a tour of the bus, the program and presented a congressional recognition award to honor students for their energy efficient efforts and proactive approach toward the environment.

“What you are doing taking this to the next generation is very important–everything we do has an impact,” said Klein to the students while on the bus, adding recent legislation in Washington will allow the natural flow of water through the Everglades.

During the tour, Klein had the students show him around the program, which includes solar-powered cars built by the students along with Allan Phipps, an advanced placement environmental science and senior research teacher. Through his Solar & Alternative Energies project, Phipps has led his students to create two solar race cars that have competed at national levels. Phipps and his students have participated in more than 40 events in the past three years to reach out to people in the community about alternative energies. The car built last year, Solar Knight II, won first place at the National Dell Winston Solar Car Challenge, held at the Texas Motor Speedway.

With Phipps’ guidance, the South Plantation High School team won the 2008-09 Lexus Environmental Challenge. The purpose of the competition, which is open to teams of middle and high school students across the U.S., is to encourage students to get involved in projects that help the environment.  South Plantation’s team, the EcoGeeks, received $50,000 in scholarships by successfully completing three themed challenges in the areas of land, water and air/climate and a final challenge.

“In the next few years, we’re going to see smaller panels with more efficiency for the car, home, any power source and Florida can lead the way–we are the Sunshine State,” said Klein during his presentation. “We need the next generation of leaders to be there to help protect and help the Everglades. People come from all over the world to see the Everglades.

Ron Klein presents congressional recognition to SPHS principal Dr. David Basile and magnet coordinator Dr. Alice Culpepper.

“I think there’s great leadership from the principals and leaders to inspire students to do such great work.”

However, Klein wasn’t the only official to notice the great work in environmental science SPHS is doing with students.

A South Plantation High School teacher and a class at the school are among those named as finalists for the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards.  Late Friday afternoon, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced 15 finalists for the awards that recognize efforts in creating healthy, efficient and productive places for learning. Finalists include Pamela Krauss’ botany class, in the class category and Allan Phipps, magnet instructor, in the teacher category.

Three finalists were selected in each of five categories including: student, classroom, teacher, school andschool district.  Winners will be announced in Tampa on October 7, 2009.

Students in Pamela Krauss’ class participate in hands-on learning, termed “gardenology.”  Krauss is a teacher in South Plantation High School’s Environmental Science and Everglades Restoration magnet program. She, along with her students, created a living laboratory for hands-on study. Her project began with the adoption of a city of Plantation park where the students designed, planted and maintained a hardwood hammock.  A series of connected garden plots at the school contain various categories of plants including those that are economically or historically important to South Florida.  A rain barrel, composing, drip irrigation and a water feature for pollinators are all utilized in maintaining the gardens.  The students study botany, agriculture, plant anatomy, plant growth, plant ecology and plant taxonomy.

Phipps was also chosen as a teacher to be a finalist. Phipps is also a finalist for National Math & Science Teacher of the Year.

Visit South Plantation High School Environmental Program for more information.  Students come from all across the county.

Related posts:

  1. South Plantation High teacher gets statewide environmental award
  2. South Plantation students to get congressional recognition for environmental science program
  3. South Plantation High students reaching out to teach green
  4. Broward Schools, South Plantation High finalists for state green award
  5. South Plantation Seniors Learn from Renowned Everglades Photographer

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Oct 5 2009. Filed under Broward County, Environmental, Everglades, Local news, Schools, Water management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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