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Congratulations to the Pacific Piranhas, an 8th-grade team from OCS, who finished in the top 6 in the 2018-2019 National Geographic GeoChallenge! With their first place win in the Detroit region on March 29, Angelina Tringali, Brooklyn Didion, Emmakate Zanoli and Avery Miller, advanced to the national competition held May 19-22 in Washington, D.C.  
The GeoChallenge competition challenged students to learn about and take action on the urgent issue of single-use plastic pollution in our waterways. The Pacific Piranhas winning solution focused on the outfalls in Auburn Hills, Michigan.   According to the team, “Our idea is to design and work with the Auburn Hills city planning team to install a net at the opening of community outfalls to catch trash, plastics, and other debris.  The ideal net would be made of recycled plastic so that it could float above the water when the levels rise.  The net would be emptied approximately once a week by the city workers that currently empty the catch basins.  The city currently has catch basins which catch heavier debris but not items that float like plastics.  They also have a vortex device which catches both, but it is very expensive.  We feel our solution will be an economical and effective addition to the solutions already in place”.   
After their first place regional finish, the team was able to install prototypes in Auburn Hills to collect data and further develop their solution.  

We are so proud of all of our students who participated in this event.  It was an amazing time of learning, performance, and collaboration with teams from other states, and our outlook on the issue of plastics in our oceans is forever changed.  Mrs. Clark is looking forward to continuing to tackle this problem with our middle school students in GeoChallenge 2020!

The GeoChallenge is a project-based competition that empowers student teams in grades five through eight to address a critical issue and change the planet, just like National Geographic Explorers. The teams create and present real-world solutions to real-world problems. Students gain skills in research and storytelling, collaboration, videography, innovative design, and mapmaking. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.