Carbon Footprint, York Middle School: SSC 2015

Subject: Carbon Footprint
Themes: Young Activists 21st Century Environmental Issues
Age groups: Elementary School Middle School
Resource type: Video

Samantha Smith Challenge

York Middle School

Team Snow Leopard, Group 2

Grade 7

Scroll down to see the video!

The Issue: Carbon Footprint

The Question: What can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?

Community Partners and Stakeholders:

  • Town of York Board of Selectmen
  • Victoria Simon
  • Zak Harding
  • Maine Green Alliance
  • YMS Community

Facts Learned that Influenced Your Thinking:

Students began with looking into what is the difference between basic necessities and extreme desires for 'things' that make up our lives; comparing different cultures. We watched an episode of 'Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey' to fully understand the impact humans have on the world. Students chose to break into three groups:Recycling, Factories, and Crude Energy. Each group was responsible for creating their own list of questions they had about their topic to use as their guide for research. As they researched, they contacted companies, organizations, spoke to the town on this very important issue.

Plan of Action:

Factory group wrote letters to factories asking them if they knew how much is wasted and what policies do they have in place for future movements toward being greener. They, also, participated in Earth Hour (an hour without power) to reflect on their own personal use.

Recycling group spoke to the Board of Selectmen on the issue ofhaving a bag ordinance in the town of York (and will continue to be involved with this issue), reducing the amount of grocery bags being given out at local stores. This group also, picked up 250 pieces of trash in thirty minutes around their school and was able to address this concern to their peers.

Crude Energy group were able to assess what energy is most useful and what the best practices are for energy use are. They had in-depth research and conducted interviews with people in the energy field. They wanted people to be more aware of how much of an impact cars have on the environment and that a few degrees cooler in your home can pay off more for the environment than people realize.


All students are walking away with a sense of personal impact. They are all more conscience of their carbon footprint and to reuse rather recycle: Reduce-Reuse-Repurpose!

Students: Tyson Matthews, Jakob Eneman, Timothy Perkins, Josh Pease, Haley Smith, Luca Danos, Kara Donovan, Molly Roher, Mary Kovec, Anna Donnelly, Jillian Dorazio, Sarah McSherry

Teacher: Liz Schambach

Names of people who made the video:

Crude Energy :Tyson Matthews, Jakob Eneman, Timothy Perkins, Josh Pease

Factories: Haley Smith, Luca Danos, Kara Donovan, Molly Roher

Recycling: Mary Kovec, Anna Donnelly, Jillian Dorazio, Sarah McSherry

Thoughts about this experience:

Students felt a sense of purpose and engagement because it all came from them. They chose their topics which made it more personal and accountable. While doing this challenge, students felt a sense of confidence, poise and drive to make an impact on their community and world. They have an idea that even though they are only one person, they still can make an impact as they continue to spread the word of the importance of the reducing the Carbon Footprint.

Quotations from students:

  • "I work better in a group now."
  • "It was a nice learning experience to learn new things from what you thought you knew."
  • "It was nice to know that you can make a difference."
  • "With normal research projects, there seems to be no outcome, but with this challenge, you got to do something."
  • "Public speaking skills got better and more confident."
  • "It was cool to go deeper into a specific topic."