San Mateo County Students Think Globally & Act Locally

Results are in from the first San Mateo Countywide FlowsToBay High School Green Infrastructure Contest. This contest was open to high school students and probed them to learn about stormwater pollution and green infrastructure solutions through creating a green infrastructure proposal for their high school campus, which addressed a specific environmental or water quality issue that affects their school community.


The winning proposal was submitted by four students in Ms. Stephanie Owens’ Biology and Environmental Science class at Menlo-Atherton High School. Students Alondra, Danny, Kate and Kevin's proposal offered a solution to the excessive flooding in the parking lot that makes student pick-up treacherous during the rainy season. Their design focused on replacing the impervious and slick asphalt throughout the parking lot with permeable pavement, which would allow stormwater to infiltrate into the underlying soils, promoting pollutant treatment and groundwater recharge as well as preventing unnecessary slippage and flooding that has inconvenienced the students. This project demonstrates a primary goal of green infrastructure - to reduce the amount of impervious surfaces in our landscape and to allow more rainwater to soak back into the ground rather than flush pollutants from streets into local waterways as it channels through gutters and pipes. The students also included a plan to place posters around the campus and near the affected areas to educate their classmates about permeable pavement, its purpose, and long term benefits. The second place winners were from Carlmont High School in Belmont with teacher Ms. Veronica Heintz. 


As the environmental challenges we face continue to increase in scope and severity, it will be up to our younger generation of students and scientists to devise innovative solutions to tackle these problems that affect the health and well-being of us all. Through thinking globally about these interconnected environmental challenges and smarter ways to address them, we can act locally to enact change in our schools, homes, and communities.