Babcock Middle School Students are Gold Medal Award Winners
in National Science Competition at Walt Disney World

Students Devised Plan to Recycle 'E-Waste' from Computers,
Cell Phones and other Electronic Devices


ORLANDO, FL—June 24, 2005—A group of students from Babcock Middle School in Westerly, Rhode Island have been named Gold Medal Winners in the Christopher Columbus Awards, a national competition that challenges middle-school students to use science and technology to solve pressing issues in their communities. Seventh-graders Alexander Lin and Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, and sixth-graders Bobby Laudone and Alexa Holmes, along with their coach, Westerly Innovations Network Engineer Jason Lin, developed a plan for recycling and disposing of 'E-waste,' a growing problem in the U.S.

More than 400 million pounds of computers, cell phones, handheld games and other devices are thrown away in the U.S. each year, leaving in their wake about two million tons of E-waste-the toxic cadmium, lead and mercury used in the manufacture of these gadgets, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The devices clog landfills, and their E-waste can pollute groundwater.

The students conducted a survey of area residents and businesses and found that the majority have no idea of the correct way to dispose of or recycle electronic devices. So they met with waste management experts and recyclers, and conducted internet research to devise a solution. They held an 'E-Waste Drop-off Day' at Babcock Middle School in December 2004 and retrofitted computers with new hard drives and operating systems so they could be reused by residents who do not currently own a computer. They also contacted manufacturers to determine the appropriate way to return electronics for recycling and directed some of the unusable items to Metech International, a local recycler. In all, they collected 21,000 pounds of E-waste. Their goal is to implement a sustainable E-waste recycling center and system in Rhode Island and eventually in other states.

Team Photo

Gold Medal Award Winners, "Westerly Innovations Network" Westerly, RI.
Left to right: Bobby Laudone, Alexander Lin, Alexa Holmes,
Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and Coach Jason Lin.

Team Wins a Trip to Walt Disney World

The team won an all-expense-paid trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, where they competed against seven other finalist teams from around the country as part of the Christopher Columbus Awards' National Championship Week. They also participated in the Christopher Columbus Academy, a custom-designed educational program conducted by scientists, engineers and educators to give the students a hands-on look at the science behind innovation such as the thrills of Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. Each member of the team will receive a $2,000 U.S. Savings Bond.

Positive Community ChangeThe Christopher Columbus Awards challenge teams of middle-school students to explore and discover opportunities for positive change in their communities using science and technology. The program is now in its ninth year and has attracted nearly 13,000 students from diverse backgrounds all across the U.S. The program is sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation ( with support from the National Science Foundation and it is endorsed by the National Middle School Association. Past winners have included a group of Native American girls who built a study hall out of straw on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, and a group of students from Pennsylvania who developed a video/motion sensor and camera for school buses that deters motorists from trying to pass illegally. Strong Participation from Girls, Minorities

The program attracts many students who may not typically enter a science competition. More than half of the entrants are girls, and more than a fourth are from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, statistics that are higher than those of most science competitions. The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation believes the teamwork aspect and community focus draw a broader range of students to enter.

For more information on the Christopher Columbus Awards, call 1-800-291-6020 or visit