Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Olympus Junior High students take the challenge

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Student team Boreal Toads, or the Terrific Toads (seventh grade), from left to right: Heidi Thomas, Caroline Pace, Anna Lund, Ruby Salazar and Ashley Marriott.

by Carol Hendrycks    

JoAnne Brown, Olympus Junior High science teacher, has spearheaded the Lexus Eco Challenge and 18 winning teams over the last decade. As a dedicated science teacher of 20 years, Brown continues to be passionate about her work and loves motivating kids to have real-world experiences. She explains, “to watch them invent things is rewarding and life changing and makes life so much more fun and worth it. And if they win, even better!”

The annual Lexus Eco Challenge is a national STEM competition for students from sixth through twelve grades. The rewards for winning the competition result in grants and scholarships for teachers, students and schools. Nationally, $500,000 in awards is distributed to competitors reaching $10,000 for a school and student teams. A portion of the winnings are reserved for the up-and-coming students to help with materials costs for the next year. Olympus Junior High is ready and well poised in continuing their winning streak.

The Lexus Eco Challenge involves teamwork and teaches students about critical skill building regarding their environment. The advisors teach their students not only how to appreciate science, but also life skills such as how to research, document and work collaboratively to find solutions. The challenge has different areas of emphasis: land and water, air and climate and the final challenge, by invitation only, is open to winners of the previous two challenges. The student participants shown are seventh-graders, called the Terrific Toads, who partnered with Utah’s Hogle Zoo on an educational video about preserving the Boreal toad. The competing ninth-graders, called the PharmaSisters, have a designed a water system filter. 

(Insert Photo 2: Student Team - Boreal Toads (seventh grade) are from left to right: Heidi Thomas, Caroline Pace, Anna Lund, Ruby Salazar, Ashley Marriott)

(Insert Photo 3: Student Team - PharmaSisters (ninth grade) are Hailey Williams, Ellie Marsh, Katelyn Johnsen, Anna Thomas, Megan Jewell and Sophie Whitehead)

Brown and her teams are looking forward to the first competition on Nov. 10. The competition began in August and continues through until March 2018. Brown is excited to showcase her students, help the community and inspire kids to compete for grants and scholarships.