June 12, 2008


McGraw students create ‘Coolest Project of the Century’

Group wins award in environmental competition

McGraw Environment

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Five members of McGraw’s Students for the Environment Club, from left Alicia Giamichael, Kayla McGuiness, Loretta Buerkle, Madeleine Byrne and Emily Canale (not shown), won a multimedia contest, “The Coolest Project of the Century,” by creating a YouTube-style video on the effects of global warming on their lives with the assistance of their advisor Nicole Lener shown at right.

Staff Reporter

McGRAW — Imagine a day where no fruits and vegetables are available and the only thing there is to eat is oatmeal. That is the scenario that won a statewide environmental contest for five McGraw students in an environmental club.
The winning team of Loretta Buerkle, Emily Canale, Madeleine Byrne, Kayla McGuinness, and Alicia Giamichael — all students in the high school’s Students for the Environment Club — produced a 3-minute YouTube-style film to capture the grand prize and a first place in the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks competition for “The Coolest Project of the Century.” Kayla and Loretta are freshmen and the other students are juniors. The club advisor is Nicole Lener.
The museum, which opened in July 2006 and is also known as the Wild Center, awarded each student $290 toward purchasing merchandise with the environment in mind, free tickets to the museum and a certificate acknowledging their accomplishment.
As a group, the students also will have $250 that they can donate to any environmental group. Lener said she would like to see them give it to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit which supports all environmental issues.
The competition requested students to depict their views on the consequences of global climate change using one of three formats: A YouTube-style film, a two- or three-dimensional work of art or a multimedia presentation.
There were three first place prizes, one from each category, and a grand prize selected from them. Kerri Ziemann, an educator at the museum, said the statistics are not available yet. She said a variety of schools from across the state applied but did not have the number.
The video will also be shown at the American Response to Climate Change Conference, held June 25 and 26 at the museum. This conference will offer solutions to curb greenhouse gases.
In the video, the club members interviewed young children on their favorite animal and food and painted a picture of life without these things using statistics; for example, animal extinction rates. The statistics scrolled over the film in red lettering.
“We had to search for them,” Madeleine said of the statistics. Lener added the statistics had to be from a reliable source or else the film would be rejected.
“I liked how it came out,” Emily said. Madeleine said she would have liked to have more time to do additional cropping and was not sure she liked the music for the piece.
Lener said the background music was a difficult piece because it had to be music that was not copyrighted. They chose a piece written by Loretta’s cousin, Tyson Buerkle, who had graduated several years ago. “The music was a big thing,” Emily said.
“I thought it turned out pretty good,” Kayla said of the film. “There’s nothing I would have changed.”
Kayla said they were going to simulate a polar bear scene with one drowning in water but didn’t have time. The students and teachers said there were a lot of things they had to cut.
“We had to debate a lot of things,” Madeleine said.
The students wrote scripts for the adults in the film, but let the young children interviewed speak freely.
Another scene they did not have time to film would have used an industrial fan to simulate the increase in turbulent weather caused by global warming.
“It bugs me that people don’t care,” Kayla said. “Even if people think it (global warming) is not coming, they should take care of the animals.” She added that she has been a vegetarian for two years. Kayla said people should at least be willing to take the time to recycle.
“Every little thing counts,” Emily said.
One little thing the students did at the school was to make sure paper was recycled during the locker cleanout last week, Lener said. She said the students put out bins.
“This is the second year of the club,” said Lener. She said both years the club has done big projects. Last year members did an energy conservation project with a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. They presented ways the school could conserve energy to the Board of Education after completing that project. Lener said some suggestions will be incorporated in the planned building renovation project, for example, insulating heating vents.
Lener said maybe next year they would work on small projects in the school. One area they would like to tackle is the cafeteria, which uses “disposable everything,” said Lener, from trays to utensils.
“A school’s a great place to make a difference,” Lener said.


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