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In a learning environment where textbooks typically serve as the vehicle to knowledge, high school often can become a difficult place for pupils to freely turn their thoughts into actions.

Barb Nealon’s AP environmental class at Susquehannock High School flips that scenario on its head.

Nealon’s class redefined the power of making a difference by creating an enterprise aimed at reducing the number of plastic water bottles used in the school.

The proposal resulted in the installation of several water bottle fillers at the high school. Each water bottle filler is designed to minimize the pollution on campus by counting the average number of plastic water bottles saved from being used in a day. Through the students' efforts, Susquehannock High School is currently saving 165 plastic bottles per day.

In addition to the installation of the water bottle fillers, students constructed a large sea turtle made from 600 plastic bottles. The sea turtle is displayed in the high school and serves as a constant reminder to students of the impact of their pollution on the world.

To accomplish their goal, students worked together to form research, financing, engineering and marketing committees to plan their proposal. They presented their ideas to community organizations to collect donations for the purchase and installation of the water bottle fillers.

Unlike other school projects, the Susquehannock students’ proposal allowed them to home in on effective real-world skills necessary to achieve their objective, Principal Kevin Molin said.

“This project epitomized a 'real-world' project," he said.

Students agreed that they gained a life-changing experience as their water bottle filler proposal let them partake in a plan that became part of the solution to a real problem.

“I am walking away from Susky with a new perspective on life and the world,” said AP environmental student Taylor Reed.

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Read or Share this story: https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/local/2016/06/02/susquehannock-environmental-students-tackle-real-world-problem/85298618/