Hillcrest Middle School teacher Mrs. Evans is heading back to school as a homeroom hero with an extra $5,000 in her pocket.
These funds were awarded to her as part of the first-ever Orkin Start With Science Innovation Challenge, a contest that encouraged teachers to submit their most innovative insect-inspired projects to DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that allows public school teachers to post requests for classroom project materials, which are fulfilled by citizen donors. Of the 1,588 projects submitted, the top ten “most innovative” have been awarded $5,000 gift card for additional classroom needs.
Mrs. Evans’s project encouraged her sixth-grade students to investigate a citrus disease currently infecting 75% of Florida’s citrus crop. After hearing about the growing disease on the news, she wanted her students to understand the impact of invasive insects, the effect losing crops has on farmers, supply and demand, and how other countries are trying to contain the disease.
Funded by Orkin’s match campaign via DonorsChoose. org, her students used a plant environment chamber and insect observation kit to observe the disease-carrying insects and learned how to extract DNA from potentially infected oranges (after they learned that a local professor from Clemson University discovered that genetically modified oranges prevented the disease). As her students learned about farm workers losing their jobs, and the increasing cost of oranges, they realized that their own experiments and potential solutions mattered.
Hillcrest Middle School educates 1,000 students of diverse backgrounds in South Carolina’s largest school district. Half of the students come from low-income households.
For further information on the overall impact of
the Orkin Start With Science Innovation Challenge.♦