USF enlists 6th graders to help get ''green'' grant

5:45 PM, Oct 12, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- The University of South Florida is looking to score a six-figure Federal Grant to help make their main education building even more energy-efficient.

What's unusual about the effort though, is who they've enlisted to do the work.

At just 11 years old, Alex McMurray doesn't exactly look like the kind of person you'd bring on-board to land a big federal grant, but he and more than a hunderd other local 6th graders are fanning out accross the University of South Florida's College of Education building to audit the school's 'energy footprint'.

"We are helping USF be a more greener college," said Alex.

Everything is being scrutinized. Electricity. Water usage. Plant life. Cleaner transportation.

Alex says he'd encourage the campus to use "more recycling bins".

The kids will take their observations, plan a video presentation, even come up with budgets to pay for eco-friendly solutions they feel the school could use.

Algelo Ramacco, another 6th grader says "if they want to get enough money they should start using solar panels".

Jasmine Wethington, another student, thinks "sensor lights that control and respond to how much sun is coming into the room. The sound, and how much motion there is in the room on whether the lights are on and off," would be an eco-friendly addition.

The data collected and the solutions the students come up with will then be picked over. The best ideas will then be used to apply for a genuine Federal Grant worth up to $100,000.

"The kids can help the USF teachers identify some time of sustainability issue here at USF and they can submit a proposal and apply for the grant," said professor Jennifer Schneider, who came up with idea.

Schneider hopes the folks who award the grant money will be impressed with the people - in this case children - who came up with it.

If awarded, the money would then be used to make USF's Education Building even more environmentally-friendly.

"They'll be really happy if at the end they can see they can really make a difference," said Schneider.

A difference that could mean some serious green for going green.

The idea also benefits the school's education undergrads who are working with the children, to learn how to help students through critical thinking projects.

The grants and presentations should be ready to submit in about six weeks.

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