Lexus Eco Challenge

Submission deadline October 31

The Lexus Eco Challenge offers an opportunity for students in grades 6-12 to address environmental issues in three challenges: Land/Water; Air/Climate; and a Final Challenge. Teams have the opportunity to win $10,000 in each of the first two challenges and up to $30,000 in the final challenge. For each challenge, teams must choose a topic and use PowerPoint to illustrate an action plan. Participants are required to show how their ideas were implemented and also evaluate the results of their plan.

America’s Home Energy Challenge

Submission deadline December 31

America’s Home Energy Challenge is designed to teach students in grades 3-8 about energy, its use and the link between saving money and energy. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the Challenge aims to enhance and extend existing energy-focused programs, provide specific home energy-saving tips and make materials that support the learning of science and energy available to schools. Participating schools compete for more than $200,000 in prizes distributed at the regional and national levels of the competition.

School of Ants will be Opening Soon

The School of Ants project is a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating. Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and all ant enthusiasts are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol. Sampling kits will be available soon. Visit for details.

Grants from the IDNR Division of Education

The IDNR Division of Education is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and the Illinois Conservation Foundation to expand the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program. Due to this partnership, DNR is increasing the maximum available funds per Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant application to $1,000. The Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant program provides funds to establish or enhance wildlife habitat on the school grounds or other public place and is available to teachers, youth group leaders and nature center personnel.  Butterfly gardens, rain gardens, prairie plots and wetlands are just some of the projects that qualify. Visit to access the application form.

The Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip Grant program can provide funding for you and your students to visit the natural wonders of our state.  Teachers may apply for up to $500 to be applied toward transportation and substitute teacher costs. You’ll find the complete instructions and application form at

Best Buy Wants Your E-Waste, Please

Read the full post from Matter Network.

A new program is underway to keep unwanted and old electronics out of landfills. Thrown-out electronics, or “e-waste,” can be recycled, but 1.5 million tons of e-waste goes into landfills across the country each year anyway. To combat this, and to encourage environmental awareness,–a social advocacy group geared for teens and young adults–Best Buy and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star Progam created the E-Waste Drive, where teens collect unwanted or broken electronics for recycling.

MIT researchers examine flight of e-waste

Read the full story in Waste & Recycling News.

When researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied trash and where it ended up in 2009, one particular waste stream stood out to them: electronic waste.

“E-waste turned out to be very different in its disposal and process,” said MIT project leader Dietmar Offenhuber. “E-waste had much longer distances [to travel for disposal] than all other waste types that we looked at.”

So the researchers recently embarked on a follow-up to the original study. They found 500 volunteers in the Seattle area and tracked their e-waste from initial disposal. Participants were able to dispose of their e-waste in any fashion they sought fit.

However, the tracking devices implanted onto the e-waste had limited-battery life and the signal was relayed back to Boston from a cell phone, so items that left the country were unable to be tracked much farther than the United States border.

Apple Reboots E-waste Recycling Program

Read the full post at EarthTechling.

Apple recently rolled out several enhancements to its electronics reuse and recycling program designed to help customers dispose of their unwanted electronics in a convenient and responsible manner.

Apple’s new recycling guidelines appear to be refreshingly simple and customer-friendly. You can now send Apple your old iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC for reuse or recycling. If the computing device has any monetary value, Apple will send you a gift card for its fair market value for use at any Apple retail store or their online store.  If you simply want to dispose of unwanted computers or displays – regardless of brand –  call 877-712-2405 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off.