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Peak to Peak Students Win $10,000 Environmental Design Challenge Award

November 27, 2018

Peak to Peak Charter School sophomores Isha Batra, left, Madison Rippetoe, center, and the rest of the teammates who a $10,000 prize in the Lexus Eco Challenge are congratulated Monday. The team, which competed as part of their Innovation and Design Thinking class, will advance to the next level of competition in the spring and a chance at a $30,000 prize.

A team of seven Peak to Peak Charter School sophomores who created an educational campaign about endangered animals learned Monday that they won a $10,000 prize plus the chance to compete at the next level.

The students competed in the national Lexus Eco Challenge through their Innovation and Design Thinking class.

“As hard as we worked, we definitely weren’t expecting it,” said student Isha Batra.

Along with Isha, other students on the team are Ella Brakhage, Ben Rosen, Madison Rippetoe, Luke Wolsko, Mana Setayesh and Jessica Kalloor.

For the Lexus Eco Challenge, middle and high school student teams create practical solutions to environmental issues. Teams choose from two rounds: the land and water challenge — the one chosen by Peak to Peak — and the air and climate challenge.

From those two challenges, 32 finalists are chosen to compete in the spring for the $30,000 top prize by addressing an environmental issue in “a new and different way as it relates to the global community.”

Each member of Peak to Peak’s team will receive $1,000 for winning at the first level, with the remaining $3,000 available to help them develop their project for the final challenge.

For the first level, Peak to Peak’s team created online games younger students could play to learn more about endangered species — testing them with some of the school’s middle school students.

They also developed a social media campaign and documented their action plan in a detailed PowerPoint required to enter the contest.

They focused on five animals that can be or once were found in Colorado — prairie dogs, grizzly bears, lynx, wolves and whooping cranes.

“They worked really hard,” said their teacher, Kristie Letter. “They had frustrations, but they kept at it. I’m really proud.”

Those frustrations included a PowerPoint presentation that was too large, forcing them to edit out images. They also had to work with the free version of programs that didn’t include all of the features they needed.

With $3,000 to work with as they expand their project for the final competition, Letter urged the students to “really dream big.”

The students said they likely will broaden their project to include how climate change is affecting endangered species on a global scale.

For the elective Innovation and Design Thinking class, now in its second year, Letter asks students to solve everything from local school problems to bigger problems that are part of national contests.

Peak to Peak High School Principal Kyle Mathews said what they’re doing in class also is “what’s happening at the cutting edge of business.”

“It’s collaboration, creativity and problem solving,” he said.

Ella Brakhage said she signed up for the class for it’s creative possibilities.

“It gives us a chance to think outside the box,” she said.

Amy Bounds: 303-473-1341, boundsa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/boundsa

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