By Brian Garner

Chester County students who have been working on environmental and science problems and solutions were honored Thursday at the inaugural Giti Math and Science Awards held at the Gateway.

<div class="source">Brian Garner</div><div class="image-desc">Michel Dube, Quality Vice President for Giti Tire USA, spoke at the Awards Ceremony on the impact of science and technology in our lives.</div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="/photo_select/33660">Buy this photo</a></div>

Michel Dube, Quality Vice President for Giti Tire USA, spoke at the Awards Ceremony on the impact of science and technology in our lives.

Great Falls Middle and High School students took two of the top first place awards and Chester Park COLT grabbed another first place honor in this competition that tasked students in the fifth, eighth and twelfth grades with coming up with a problem connected to science and the environment and then working together with their team to solve it. Many of the teams utilized the 3-D printers already at their schools and some used recycled materials such as old tires, for their solutions such as creating habitats or gardens to support birds and butterflies.

The mission statement and parameters the students were to work within required them to “explore ‘going green’ and invent an eco-friendly item that could benefit our community through the use of math, science and technology.”

In her opening remarks, Chester County Superintendent Dr. Angela Bain said the school district is proud of their partnership with our new neighbor, Giti Tire. She said this was a joint enterprise between the Chester County School District, Chester County government, City of Chester government, Giti Tire and the Chester Economic Development Association. She then introduced the members of the Chester County School Board who were present at the event.

Dr. Bain quoted from the Giti Tire USA website, which states: “This company is building its first greenfield project in North America, located in Chester County, South Carolina. The plant will produce passenger and light truck tires for the replacement and original equipment markets. The plant will be built with a focus on maintaining a healthy balance with the environment and following Giti Tire’s green initiatives.

“That resonated with me,” Dr. Bain said, “and when I met with Ruby Vizcaino (Giti Tire marketing) and (Chester County Economic Development Director) Karlisa Dean, they talked about what the company’s focus was, to keep a green environment and help the county be green and growing,” she said. When the Chester plant begins production in a few months, it will produce an estimated five million tires per year.

“We are so excited they have partnered with us for this inaugural Giti Tire Math and Science Award. Our students and faculty team sponsors have been working all year to develop these unique projects, with a focus on making Chester County a better place to live and grow; that’s right in line with Giti’s mission as well. Their directions were to explore going green, and inventing an eco-friendly item that could benefit the community through math, science and technology. We kind of left that open-ended for them. These students had to apply to be on the Giti Math and Science teams. They completed an application, they got a teacher’s recommendation and they had to ultimately get selected by a school team and then they could serve as a club member,” Dr. Bain said. There are teams composed of fifth grade students, eighth grade students and high school students.

“Once they were on a team, they discussed a problem, they created a process to develop a product and/or a solution to the problem, they created a prototype and we had the judging of the projects,” Dr. Bain said. The judging team was composed of Giti Tire personnel, Chester City Councilmembers Angela Douglas and Carlos Williams, Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart and Chester County Councilmember Mary Guy.

Michel Dube, Quality Vice President for Giti Tire USA, spoke next.

“I had the privilege this week to attend all the presentations that were made by the students of Great Falls, Lewisville and Chester. I was amazed at the quality of the projects and the enthusiasm from the students and the professionalism of their presentations,” he said.

“Every one is a winner and they should be very proud of their achievements,” he said.

“If you look, science and technology have been a never-ending quest since the beginnings of humanity. Some examples, going back starting 500 years ago when we started to master fire. Ships appeared on our globe about 6,000 years ago. Wheels appeared 5,000 years ago. Then we had the Iron and Bronze Ages, 5,000 years ago as well…electricity, 400 years ago…steam engines, 300 years…light bulb, 200 years…telephone, 160 years…penicillin, 120 years…radio, 120 years…airplanes, 114 years…television, 90 years…plastic, 80 years…nuclear technology, 72 years…transistors, 70 years…Internet, 40 years ago…personal computers, 26 years ago…mobile phones (a curse and a blessing,) 23 years ago…and smartphones just 10 years ago.

“All these technological innovations have drastically changed human life and shaped the direction of human life. And the speed and complexity of these technological developments is getting faster and more complex. Science and technology have penetrated all aspects of our daily life, and have made our lives generally better and easier and have allowed us to live longer and healthier,” Dube said.

But like any good thing, we have to carefully manage the use and application of science and technology, he cautioned.

“We and our children have the challenge to reduce the impact of our technological society on our environment. The tire business is no different, and it has seen tremendous technological improvements over the last 100 years. Also add that challenge related to environmental impact, especially from scrap tires at the end of their lifecycle. Over 250 million tires a year, especially in the U.S., are discarded every year. Luckily, the majority of these tires are disposed of properly through recycling or used for their energy value. Furthermore the tire manufacturing industry has become quite environmentally friendly and constantly reducing the environmental impact.

“We at Giti are very much aware of the importance of science and technology in our business. We know the importance of a workforce that is well-educated and knowledgeable in scientific disciplines like math, physics, chemistry and IT. We also are very aware of our environment and constantly strive to reduce the environmental impact of our activities.”

“It’s quite natural for us to encourage the development of new scientific disciplines, and what better way than starting with our younger generation? Getting our children interested and passionate about math and science will surely better prepare them to be successful in our ever-increasing technological society,” Dube said.

“And selfishly, we hope that some of these students will join the Giti family,” he added.

Giti Tire provided the trophies and medals for the winning and runner-up teams as well as stipends for the teacher sponsors, cash rewards for the students and funds to provide for math and science supplies/materials/programs for each of the Giti Math and Science teams.

The teams and their projects were (First Place winners noted):

Elementary

Chester Park School of the Arts: Eco-Friendly Garden – A eco-friendly tire garden with hanging bird feeders.

Chester Park Center of Literacy through Technology (First Place): A habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.

Chester Park School of Inquiry: Healthy choices. Created “Grab and Go” brochures and keychains promoting health lifestyles and placed them in local restaurants.

Great Falls Elementary: Bluebird Habitat and Butterfly Garden Enhancement – Included placing two bluebird houses and refurbish butterfly garden at the school.

Lewisville Elementary School: Giti Green Garden – In the school garden, placed recycled bird feeders, a solar-powered water feature, including fish, water plants and a birdbath. A songbird and pollinator’s garden, butterfly garden and an insect observatory. The garden was certified with the National Wildlife Federation as a National Schoolyard Habitat.

Middle

Chester Middle School: A tire tower garden. The community donated all supplies for this garden, which included a 3-D printed waterfall mechanism.

Great Falls Middle School (First Place): A vertical community garden equipped with repurposed pallet planters and a gravity-fed irrigation system that contained 3-D printed drip emitters.

Lewisville Middle School: The problem was food being wasted at the school. Students 3-D printed a grinder and “super composter” to grind up the food and convert it to compost.

High

Chester High School: Biodegradable filtration system for the Ganges River in India. The filtration system uses plants to filter the water.

Great Falls Middle School (First Place): The Sunspotter, a solar panel with motors that tracks the sun as it moves in the sky during the day. The base of the device was created from 3-D printed, biodegradable materials.

Lewisville High School: Created Cough Pops, throat-soothing lollipops, when team members and students at school were suffering from colds and coughs. The lollipops used materials such as locally sourced honey as one of their ingredients.