For 21 years, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. has sponsored an annual Symposium for Environment and Education, challenging middle school students in partner communities to identify an environmental issue and work towards a solution. The symposium fosters teamwork and helps teachers to incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts. It also aligns with the company’s business goals of protecting the environment and promoting sustainability.
Students from approximately 15 schools throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida work with their teachers and Wheelabrator employees to identify an environmental issue in their community and research a practical, sustainable solution. Students then engage the local news media, local leaders, and the community to share their results and elicit feedback. The experience culminates in a four-day conference in Baltimore where the teams present their projects.
Wheelabrator Falls Inc., located in Falls Township, PA, sponsored the Morrisville Intermediate/High School students’ participation in the 2015 symposium. The student group, known as the MV Aviators, has participated in two previous symposia. This year they decided to make Morrisville an Audubon-recognized Bird Town. The MV Aviators formed partnerships with the Bucks County Conservation District and the Master Gardeners to organize a community event to promote bird-friendly practices. The event was open to the public and participants built nest boxes and assembled “seed bombs,” which are balls of compressed soil interspersed with seeds. Attendees were encouraged to pledge to use native plants on their property. Wheelabrator Falls Inc. has maintained WHC programs since 2012.
Wheelabrator Gloucester L.P., located in Westville, NJ, helped students from West Deptford Middle School to study the link between storm drains, freshwater mussels, and water health. Students wanted to increase community awareness of the link between water health and keeping streets pollution-free. The students prepared a survey for their peers to take, with specific questions about storm drains and their effect on waterways in general and freshwater mussels in particular. The group stenciled the school’s storm drains with the words “No dumping, drains to waterways” and distributed brochures about storm drains to each homeroom class. A highlight of the project was teaching fourth-graders about pollution and mussels through lessons, interactive games, and mussel dissection. Wheelabrator Gloucester L.P. has maintained WHC programs since 2009.