Math and science teacher Brendan Dilloughery received a $6,000 grant — the largest amount possible — from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to teach students about marine debris and the watershed.
After hearing about it from Principal Mary Longhart, Dilloughery jumped on the opportunity and applied for a piece of the grant. He explained his idea to the 65 eighth-graders he teaches as part of the school’s academy program and sent away their application.
“A lot of the kids in the academy were really excited,” Dilloughery said.
The middle school is structured around an academy program that allows several enrichment periods during each week where Dilloughery’s students had a chance to work on the project.
Several months later, when the grant was approved, the students went to work.
The eighth-graders began warning their classmates about the pollution caused by plastic water bottles. They wrote a school-wide survey to find out how many water bottles are used in students’ homes and have started selling reusable, eco-friendly Klean Kanteen water bottles bearing a logo designed by a classmate.
“We got so many good student logos,” Dilloughery said.
The group chose a pattern submitted by eighth-grader Ian Bullard, with a dolphin on a wave.
But all that didn’t happen without work. During the academy program’s enrichment period, students worked within the grant budget to design posters and banners, plan and interpret the survey, and figure out how many canteens to order and how much each bottle should cost.
The grant also provided money for three filtered-water faucets at the school.
“There’s a quote above my (classroom) door, ‘Be the change we can see in the world,’” Dilloughery said. “We’re always talking about problems. I tell them, you can make a difference, you don’t have to sit there and think about it.”
Santa Cruz-based environmental organizations Save Our Shores and the Surfrider Foundation each visited the students, who wrote reports and have started presenting them to younger classes at the school.
A core group of a dozen students in the project’s “executive club” have taken it upon themselves to make it work, Dilloughery said.
The students ordered 360 canteens in three sizes — 18 ounces, 27 ounces and 40 ounces — in blue and white. Sales have already been brisk, and the profits will be used to continue the program next year and also to beautify the school in a way the students will determine, Dilloughery said.
WHAT: Middle-schoolers are selling customized Klean Kanteen water bottles to replace disposable bottles and combat pollution.
Where: Scotts Valley Middle School office, 8 Bean Creek Road, in Scotts Valley
COST: $18, $20 or $25; bottles come in three sizes
INFO: Brendan Dilloughery, firstname.lastname@example.org