Grantee Research Project Results
EPA's Sustainable Design Competition Winner - University of South Florida
MUSIC: “Science Works” theme music
LACAPRA: Welcome to EPA’s “Science Works,” a podcast about how the EPA uses science to meet its mission to protect your health and environment. From “Science Works” at EPA, I’m Véronique LaCapra.
In this podcast, we’ll meet one of the winning teams from this year’s P3 student design competition. P3 stands for people, prosperity and the planet, and students from any U.S. college or university can participate. EPA sponsors the competition to challenge students to work together in interdisciplinary teams, to design and build sustainable technologies that improve quality of life, promote economic development, and protect the environment.
This team from the University of South Florida in Tampa is creating an educational collaboration involving the university, a middle school in East Tampa, and the broader East Tampa community. The goal of the project is to increase awareness of local water quality, focusing on storm water ponds.
East Tampa is an economically disadvantaged area that is currently undergoing a number of revitalization projects. Faculty advisor Maya Trotz describes the neighborhood:
TROTZ: “So East Tampa is a 94% African American community that is 7.5 square miles in area. They have 31 storm water ponds and 16 schools. The community itself has invested in beautifying three of the ponds, because they’re trying to redevelop the area.”
LACAPRA: One of the storm water ponds is located across the street from the Young Middle Magnet School for math and science. Graduate student Erlande Omisca says the P3 team developed an environmental curriculum for the middle school students, focusing on pollution problems in the pond:
OMISCA: “The students got involved because they would go every week across the street to the storm water pond, and test the water, monitor the water quality there, and get hands-on experience through that.”
TROTZ: “We go every Friday and work with them.”
LACAPRA: Again, faculty advisor Maya Trotz.
TROTZ: “Some of them got to come to university to visit the lab, so that we at least start planting the seed that you know, that science and engineering could be something that’s interesting and accessible and fun.”
LACAPRA: I caught up with the University of South Florida team again at the P3 awards ceremony, where EPA Acting Science Advisor Kevin Teichman announced the winning projects:
TEICHMAN: “We’re half way home, we have three more P3 awards to give out. The next one goes to the University of South Florida, for Water Awareness Research and Education in East Tampa: a pilot collaboration involving University of South Florida, Young Magnet Middle School and the East Tampa Community.” [APPLAUSE]
LACAPRA: The team’s reaction to winning?
OMISCA: “WOOHOO!” [LAUGHTER]
TROTZ: “Erlande is like, we’re excited.” [LAUGHTER]
OMISCA: “We are excited!” [LAUGHTER]
LACAPRA: Erlande Omisca.
OMISCA: “We’re just excited about it, we’re just thinking about the students that we worked with in the community, and the other faculty members, and the other students at university, they’ll be so happy about it.”
LACAPRA: I asked Maya Trotz about the team’s plans for the next phase of their project.
TROTZ: “The next phase is to expand the project to other schools in the neighborhood, including an elementary school which is right next to the middle school that we worked with, and also to the high school, and hopefully do events that bring other teachers and other […] schools in the neighborhood, so that they can learn and build from it. And then also to build educational kiosks at the storm water ponds, that help to build environmental awareness, and show the work that, you know, all the students involved have been doing, in terms of monitoring water quality and stuff like that, associated with the ponds.”
LACAPRA: You can learn more about the University of South Florida’s project on our website, at epa.gov/P3.
MUSIC: “Science Works” theme music
LACAPRA: Thanks for listening to “Science Works,” a podcast series produced by EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Please check back again soon for our next program, at epa.gov/ncer.