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PTA Council Announces New Project-Based Learning Opportunity

Posted by Joan Letourneau on Oct 28, 2010

Jenny Kopach, science chairperson for the PTA Council, would like all schools in District 205 to know about an exciting project-based learning opportunity – the Disney Planet Challenge. This contest is perfect for the science and ecology clubs at all the schools throughout our district.

Students and teachers come up with an environmental issue that they research and investigate and on which they can take local action. The group (a class, club or consortium of students) then submits a project (due in Feb 2011) documenting its experiences and results. What a cool way for our amazing District 205 students and teachers to show off our creativity and uniqueness to the rest of the country!

The winning elementary school group will receive a class trip to Disneyland and the winning middle school will receive $20,000 for their science program (plus $7,500 for the teacher). There are amazing consolation prizes as well, ranging from $9,000 for the second place middle school (plus $5,000 for the teacher) to $1,000 for each state finalist. The contest is FREE to enter.

There are many things we are already doing in our schools that could make good projects to submit for this contest such as:

  • Lunch Recycling Programs – Some elementary schools are recycling their lunch waste, from the liquids to the packaging to the food. A study could be done based on the pounds of materials recycled and how that translates to reductions in landfills. What are the gains? What is the cost? There are lots of opportunities for tying in current environmental and population-based issues. This also could be a multiple school comparison.
  • No Idling Zones – Each school has worked to place No Idling Zone signs in the pick-up/drop-off areas. A study could be done to determine if the rate of emissions has dropped over time. Counting the number of cars before or after school, making graphs, checking to see which cars are idling (easy to see when it’s cold outside), matching the number of cars to weather patterns and days of the week, and measuring CO2 output with a portable device (adults only!).

Winning projects from last year’s Disney Planet Challenge involved saving quails, saving owls, saving starfish and recycling batteries.

Click here for more information from Disney, including registration and project deadlines.

If you have an idea for a project Emerson could submit for this contest, please contact PTA President Michelle Albers at

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