Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2014

Fairfield student: Fill tires to save environment

FMS student Michael Holt finds fault with low tire pressure
By DIANE VANCE | Jun 06, 2014
Mentors and students working on Team PSI MPG include from left, Chris Schwarz, Pranav Krishnamurthy and Ethan Trepka, both middle school students in Iowa City, Michael Holt of Fairfield Middle School, Timothy Brown and team advisor Cory Klehm, an FMS science teacher.

Fairfield Middle School sixth grader Michael Holt was on a middle school team named as one of the finalists in the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education sixth annual Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.

Along with two eighth-grade students at Northwest Junior High in Iowa City, the three boys, “PSI Spys” focused on the environmental problems associated with the effect of tire pressure.

“Improper tire pressure is a safety issue and causes more air pollution,” said Holt.

He traveled to Iowa City for team meetings because it used the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa.

“It worked out well. We met on Fridays and I have music lessons Friday evenings in Iowa City anyway,” said Holt.

Holt, who plays percussion in the FMS honor band, also takes violin and piano lessons.

He said he learned a lot during the team’s research and getting to work with professionals and scientists at the driving simulator.

“Tire pressure influences fuel consumption,” he said. “If tire pressure is too low, cars use more gas and create more pollution.”

The students researched information using Edmunds.com, a car comparison site, the National Highway Traffic and Safety administration and the Rubber Manufacturers Association, as well as the driving simulator resources, including scientists and statisticians.

Holt enjoyed the “hands-on” part the most.

“We surveyed more than 200 people about how often they check their tire pressure,” he said.

The team studied tire pressure effects on rolling resistance, the need to increase public awareness of the safety issue of underinflated tires and ways to improve a person’s behavior toward checking tire pressure.

“After we did the survey, and many people found their tires were underinflated, they said they would check it more often,” said Holt.

Fairfield Middle School had one more connection with this finalist team.

“We were mentored by a retired Iowa City teacher but the rules of the Siemens challenge required an active teacher, so Mr. [Cory] Klehm stepped in to co-mentor our team,” said Holt.

Siemens describes the process of the challenge: Under the guidance of a teacher, students were tasked with identifying an environmental issue in their community, and creating a replicable green solution using digital curriculum designed by Discovery Education.

Three middle school teams, from Delaware, Michigan and Wisconsin, were named winners.

As one of 44 middle school finalist teams throughout the U.S., Team PSI MPG students each received a finalist certificate and a Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge prize pack.

“Siemens was very good to us,” said Holt. “They sent us a backpack with stuff inside.

“It was a great experience to work with professionals and the older students. I want to do this again,” he said.

Fairfield Middle School will receive a congratulatory Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge banner.

Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education says its We Can Change the World Challenge is the nation’s premier national environmental sustainability challenge that provides K-12 students with the tools and inspiration to improve their schools, communities and world.

As part of the 2014 Challenge, elementary, middle and high school students across the country identified environmental issues in their schools and communities and created replicable solutions using digital curriculum designed by Discovery Education. An esteemed panel of environmental advocates, science/technology/engineering/mathematics professionals, science teachers and professors selected this year’s winners based on each project’s viable solution to a real world environmental challenge. Projects also were evaluated on their ability to engage the support of the local community and ability to be replicated globally.

“Now, more than ever, environmental issues are at the forefront of our national discussion,” said David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. “These students bring fresh perspectives with new and exciting solutions that affect change. The Siemens Foundation and Siemens’ 53,000 employees are inspired by the innovation of these students.”

Visit wecanchange.com for a look at all the winning and finalists teams.

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