Elementary School Hopes to Win "Radical School Yard Renovation Contest"

Elementary School Hopes to Win "Radical School Yard Renovation Contest"

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Kim Johnson ReportingNational Geographic and Ford Motor Company are sponsoring a nationwide "Radical School Yard Renovation Contest." And a Utah elementary school is entering for a chance to win the $100,000 prize.

That prize money would help create educational green space and fix a pesky problem, too. When teachers at Escalante Elementary heard about the contest they entered with enthusiasm.

Machelle Dahl, Teacher: “We have one month. We have to do this. This will take care of our problem outside.”

The problem outside is with the soccer field.

Daniel Alvarez, 6th Grader: “Our problem is that we can’t play soccer because it’s so muddy, and it’s like a pond in here. It’s really weird.”

Besides the water table being high in the whole neighborhood, there are three artesian springs underneath the play area, making it too wet for the children to play on 70 percent of the time.

The students were required to explore their school yard and find out what it was like one hundred years ago. With the help of experts they did geological and archeological digs.

Ron Rood, Assistant State Archeologist: “We loaned them some of our gear from the state archaeology office and just offer a little bit of advice on how to do an archaeological excavation.”

They found golf balls and a ring, among other things.

Alex Wendel, 4th Grader: “We found metal, lots of pieces of wood. We found some snail shells, underwater snail shells. What would that indicate? That this was near the bottom of Bonneville.”

What was once an ancient lake, and in more modern times wetlands, is now a soggy soccer field. The kids are proposing to use the wasted water to restore wetlands at the east end of the school property. They want to build a fenced in pond and garden where all of Escalante's students can study science firsthand.

Machelle Dahl: “They could pipe the water over to a little slope and make a meandering little stream, and make it all happen, and sort of dry out the field. And then pipe some of the water to a small garden. And we figured out it was all doable within the award money we would get if we win.”

They'll officially submit their plan to National Geographic and Ford tomorrow. The students and teachers at Escalante will learn if they've won the Radical Renovation contest in about two weeks.

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