Local 8th grade team advances to national competition put on by National Geographic

Carlisle/West Shore

A school assembly put on by students at New Cumberland Middle School for their peers wasn’t your typical gathering of students.

The group of 8th graders presented its solution to National Geographic’s GeoChallenge, which asks students to change the planet. This year’s mission: stop plastic pollution in our waterways.

“We’re the ‘Nerd Herds. Our solution to reduce plastic pollution is an interactive children’s book called ‘Riely reduces plastic,'” said 8th grader Mia Brown. “They go on a shopping trip and she teaches her dad about all the shopping choices she can make,” said Brown.

“The goal of our project is to inform more kids about the problem plastic is making on the world,” said 8th grader Paige Byerly.

A first place win for the Nerd Herds team at regionals was a shock.

“Oh, I’m just blown away. I didn’t believe,” said 8th grader Ben Kruleski.

Now the team is prepping for the national competition in Washington, D.C. in May. The prize for the winners is $25,000 to help advance their solution on preventing plastic pollution.

“So the kids are starting to brainstorm, should we spend all of that money on publishing a book, what are the logistics of actually distributing a book, and what are the shipping costs, and things like that,” said teacher and GeoChallenge coach Sandra Van Etten. “They’re also thinking about having an eBook that they could distribute for free to lots and lots of kids.”

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