Chewonki has launched the 2015 Zero Waste Challenge for Maine Middle Schools, the fourth annual statewide contest inviting 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-graders to engage in hands-on learning about sustainability and developing strategies for reducing the waste stream in their schools. Students work in a real-world framework, using mathematics, imagination, problem solving, data analysis, and teamwork to study and then tackle the amount of waste their school generates. They come up with proposals that will reduce this waste and save money for their school. Tom Twist, Chewonki’s sustainability officer, says that past submissions have been impressive in scope and sophistication. A panel of judges including representatives from the waste management industry, education, and sustainability decide on the winners, who receive cash prizes to help them carry out their plans. First prize is $1,000; second prize, $500; and third prize, $250. Schools that have previously won a Zero Waste Challenge prize can reapply for a Frequent Flyer prize to help support the ongoing work of executing the waste-reduction strategy. The Zero Waste Challenge gives Maine middle-schoolers a way to undertake meaningful STEM and sustainability learning, serve their community, and show the world that the future is in the hands of some very creative and determined young people. Sign up for the challenge here!