You have the power to make a difference!

Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education launched the Fourth Annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge which invites students in the U.S. to team up with classmates under teacher/mentors to solve environmental problems in their school (grades K-5), community (grades 6-8), and world (grades 9-12).

Nearly 18,000 elementary, middle and high school students competed in last year's challenge, offering innovations in areas such as food-waste-to-energy, community-scale battery recycling, phantom-power load reduction, systematic behavior change, erosion control, wildlife habitat restoration, and sustainable agriculture for arid zones.

Student and teacher/mentor prizes, which vary according to grade level and value more than $250,000 total, include scholarships, savings bonds, school grants, adventure trips, and a chance to present their idea at the United Nations. A panel of environmental experts and science educators will judge teams based on their research, analysis, and the ability of the solution to be replicated on a larger scale. High school students are specifically challenged to address energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation and cleanup, or air and climate.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge for high school encourages student teams to identify an environmental issue that has local, national and global implications and to provide a viable, replicable solution.

The challenge was open Aug. 24 through March 15, 2012. Teams must select an environmental topic relating to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation & clean-up and/or air & climate. The Challenge is open to high school students in grades 9-12. Teams must consist of two to four students (with one designated student Team Lead) under the guidance of a teacher/mentor. The teacher/mentor must register and create a team(s) to begin. Once this is complete, the student team can begin work on the Challenge application.

Only the designated student Team Lead can submit the final application. However, all team members must contribute to the process. All submitted work must be the work of the students and completed during the entry period.

As citizens and stewards of our planet, high school students are in a unique position to become active agents of environmental change. Fortunately many are interested in learning about and taking responsibility for your environment. In addition, they are familiar with today's tools and technologies that can help influence others to create an impact beyond their local community.

Top prizes will include thousands of dollars in scholarship money and more! Today's students are ready to change the world and you have the power to make a difference.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge middle school level encourages student teams, working with a teacher/mentor, to identify environmental issues of concern and create sustainable, reproducible improvements in their local communities. It is open to all middle school students in grades 6-8 working in teams of two to four with a teacher/mentor. The teacher/mentor must register and create a team to begin. Once this is complete, the student team can work on the challenge application. Only the teacher/mentor can submit the final application.

All submitted work must be the work of the students and completed during the entry period. The Challenge is open Aug. 24 through March 15, 2012.

Today's young people will inherit a world that's very different from the one their parents inherited. Climate change; polluted air, water and soil; endangered species; shrinking coastlines; and a rapidly increasing population are among the many issues that threaten our global environment.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge at the middle school level consists of six steps. Making an impact and improving the future for everyone is a reward within itself. In addition to this accomplishment, the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge awards a variety of exciting prizing. Top prizes include a share in thousands of dollars in savings bonds and an unforgettable Discovery adventure trip.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge at the elementary school level is designed to help students work together to solve an environmental problem in their classroom or school community. It is open to all elementary school classes in grades K-5 with a teacher/mentor (up to 50 students in a class). The teacher/mentor must register and create a class to begin. Then the teacher can work with his or her class to complete the application.

The challenge focus for elementary school is change at the classroom or school community level. All submitted work must be completed during the entry period. The challenge is open Aug. 24 through March 15, 2012. K-2 entries and 3-5 entries will be judged separately and a first-, second- and third-prize winner from both K-2 and 3-5 will be selected.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge offers students the opportunity to use science, math, and reading/language arts concepts and skills to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements. For example, students utilize their comprehension skills by reading and summarizing non-fiction texts. Then they use their writing skills to write an action plan to solve a local environmental issue based on what they have learned.

With the help of the Eco-heroes, students as a class can become Agents of Change. The five Eco-heroes on the website, Thera, Typhoon, Cirrus, Solara, and Aja, will help you provide encouragement and information for your class. But the most important eco-hero, you, will guide the class through the Challenge and help them reach beyond themselves and learn how to create change in your school environment.

For more information and to begin the application process, go to http://www.wecanchange.com/.

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