They may not wear capes or be superheroes, but the "Green Girls" of Lakeside Middle School have set out to change the world.
While Jenna Bates, Sarah Hosey and Jameson Riddle still have some work to do encouraging the county to adopt a more comprehensive plastics program, their efforts have made them Georgia state finalists for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.
“It is important to showcase projects like Green Girls, which exemplify the creative perspectives middle school students have toward environmental change” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, Siemens Foundation president.
“[We] are proud to honor these students and their mentors for ingenuity, originality and their efforts to initiate real environmental change.”
Siemens has a facility in south Forsyth.
The plastics recycling concept stemmed from an assignment in Patti Grammens’ eighth-grade gifted science class at Lakeside.
“Each year my ... gifted kids have to do an extra project,” Grammens said. “These three girls decided to take on recycling. Their thought is Forsyth County should recycle all of the plastics and not just a couple of plastics.
"If we did include all the plastics, it would be much better for the entire county.”
The three girls began the project in October, working together for a few hours every Monday and Thursday after school. The meetings continued into January, Hosey said.
“We looked around and noticed that only our paper at our school was being recycled and our plastic milk cartons," she said. "We wondered what other things could be recycled.
“At the library we took out books and researched about the environment and the effects of plastic.
To raise awareness, the girls went around their neighborhoods and surveyed their fellow eighth-graders. They also sent a letter promoting the benefits of recycling all types of plastics to Keep Forsyth County Beautiful and the county government.
Before their project, Hosey said, most people ignored recycling bins "because the trash can was right by them.”
“I definitely noticed at lunchtime when we would recycle, there were more cartons," she said. "More people were throwing away plastic water bottles in the designated recycling spots.
“We went around to our neighborhoods and told them about what was going on and, definitely, when I walk out to my bus stop now, I’ve noticed more recycling boxes out.”
The "Green Girls" were one of six teams from the school to participate in the Siemens contest, which this year involved more than 2,800 students.
Grammens said the girls did so well because “they had better research.”
“They went to the recycling center and learned more about it,” she said. “They did go out and do a community survey and found that they had a lot of people that were interested in this, and they collected signatures in a petition that they sent with their letter.”
The trio is representing the state for the national grand prize of a $10,000 savings bond, a Discovery Adventures trip to Costa Rica and a video camera to document their trip. The winner will be announced Wednesday.