Concord Hill Students Conquer the Carpool

Jun 02, 2011

Concord Hill School’s second-grade science club was featured in the KidsPost section of The Washington Post for its winning entry in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, a national science competition that charges students with solving an environmental problem at their school. Team “Concord Hill Greenies,” comprised of 13 second-graders and mentors Tracy Yaffe and Jack Daggitt, took on the challenge of improving Concord Hill’s afternoon carpool line, which they determined was a significant source of air pollution due to the amount of gas burned by the 50 to 60 cars while waiting in line. Not only did the students’ entry win first place in the competition out of thousands of entries, but it also provided the school with a feasible carpool solution that has already been implemented and proven successful. In addition, the team will receive a prize package that includes a Discovery Education assembly, a banner, and a $5,000 grant for the school.

In devising their solution, the students acted out the carpool line and concluded that increasing the speed of loading students into cars would improve the line’s efficiency. However, they also realized that the timing of the cars’ arrival was problematic, as most of the cars arrived at or around the same time, causing a back-up. The students’ solution was to assign families staggered arrival times by last name over 20 minutes, so that one group would arrive at 3:00 p.m., the next at 3:05, and so on. Under the new system, families who previously spent up to 15 minutes in line now wait a minute or less. Team “Concord Hill Greenies” succeeded in providing a sustainable solution to an environmental problem while simultaneously streamlining a once-cumbersome process for the school and its families.