CONGRATULATIONS to the students who won our contest to guess the date of Earth Overshoot Day 2019!

Corbett Preparatory School of IDS, USA

Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, USA

6th graders Keegan, William, Ronak, and Rohan:
“Method 2: Average rate of change. We found how many days Earth Overshoot Day has changed and we added it up. Then we divided the number (-58) by 18 (the number of years we counted) and the answer was -3 ! Then we substracted 3 days to the past Earth Overshoot Day.”
High-school senior Ema:
“I enjoyed thinking of how to calculate the date. After looking at the various datapoint given, I decided to derive an arithmetic equation from the last 10 datapoints because those created a slightly different slope on the graph.”

Maria Cardona, a science teacher at Corbett Prep, was researching a personal footprint calculator online when she stumbled upon the Guess-the-Date Contest. “I found, used the lesson plan that the site makes available, and taught my students about the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity,” she said.

Then she downloaded data and went to her colleague Telma Largent, a math teacher. “We looked at the trend, then we realized that we needed the data of the last 14 years to ‘guesstimate’ the date of Earth Overshoot Day 2019,” Telma said. She led four advanced-level 6th graders through six sessions to come up with four approaches : Educated Guessing, Average Rate of Change, Extrapolation, and Average Date. On February 27, Keegan, William, Rohan, and Ronak presented their work at the school’s STEAM Symposium, with the whole school and parents in attendance (see video below).

“The goal of this effort was to educate, and acknowledge the challenges that we’re facing in the world today with regard to natural resources, as we’re using them faster than we can afford to,” Maria Cardona said. “To me, bringing this information to students is transformational – allowing them to understand that our Earth is so valuable and needs to be cared for,” she added.

Her lesson has been heard. “I would like to see more renewable power being used. I would also like for people to use less water and eat less meat because it takes a lot of water for meat to be made,” stated Rohan.

Watch the video below to hear first-hand accounts from all four students. With our thanks to Corbett Prep for producing it!

AP Environmental Science teacher Kathie Ang had no idea she was setting up her students Wendy and Ema on a path to becoming Footprint Champions when she told her class about the Guess-the-Date Contest. “I typically have my students use the Footprint Calculator at the beginning of the year and again at the end of class so they can compare,” she explains. Typical Footprint Calculator results range from 2 to 8 Earths, she added. This year, one student whose Footprint Calculator results showed 1 Earth, however, enjoyed the chance to tell her classmates about her lifestyle. As for the contest, “I simply offered it to them as extra credit,” she said.

High-school senior Wendy first learned about the Ecological Footprint and Earth Overshoot Day in her class with Kathie Ang. “One important fact that I learned was how important education is. An effective solution can be implemented right now: increasing girls’ access to education,” Wendy said. “Many people are skeptical about allocating more funding towards research on developing new technology but increasing girls’ access to education can limit population growth and decrease overall human consumption of resources.” In addition, the Guess-the-Date Contest gave her the opportunity to pore over the Footprint Explorer open data platform. “It showed me a different perspective of human consumption on a much more larger scale. It showed me how much influence one individual’s actions have on the environment,” she pointed out.

Both Wendy and Ema agree that they have been reconsidering choices they make on a daily basis. “I personally would take steps towards using less resource as possible,” said Ema. “I take shorter showers and I am asking my friends to also partake in small acts as well that go a long way.”

Hear directly from Keegan, William, Ronak and Rohan, and their math and science teachers, about their Guess-the-Date Contest experience.

Wendy and Ema this week as they built solar stoves with their class under the guidance of Environmental Science teacher Kathie Ang.