Christopher Columbus Awards


Martine Long
(302) 235-0303
Stephanie Hallman
Christopher Columbus Awards

Middle School Students from Charter Oaks Academy in Delaware Win Top Award: The $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant in National Science/Community Service Competition Held at Walt Disney World®

Students develop an outreach program to help alleviate the shrinking space at Delaware's landfills

AUBURN, N.Y. — June 14, 2013 — A team of three middle school students from Hockessin, Delaware, tackled the challenge of shrinking landfill space in their state.

Students Daniel DiMascio, Eric Long and Susannah Mason and their coach Martine Long were chosen as the winners of the 2013 $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant. The team's research showed that America is losing landfills at a rate of about one per day across the country. In 1995 Delaware was on track to reach its landfill capacity by the year 2020. In 2011, a curbside recycling program was mandated throughout the state which resulted in a 37 percent reduction in the landfill's annual volume.

The River Rangers Team Photo
Left to right: Coach Martine Long, Susannah Mason, Eric Long and Daniel DiMascio.

The team's project implemented a curbside composting collection program that would divert waste from the landfill, extend its expected life, and reduce the negative effects of the landfills on the environment.

Composting is a method of decomposing a mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich) materials. All you need to compost is air, water and organic materials. Natural composting takes about two years. To reduce the time frame, Gore™ created technology to monitor heat, oxygen and moisture levels of compost which reduced the time for organic waste to compost to eight weeks. This made composting a viable business option by taking unwanted waste and turning it into a profitable product.

The team stated, "There is no residential curbside composting collection in Delaware to get the organic waste from household to composter. Our solution has three separate areas of focus — residential curbside composting, business composting and education. Each of these components will culminate in required state legislation that mandates curbside composting statewide."

Team Wins Trip to National Championship Week in Florida

The team and coach won an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World® Resort where they competed in the Christopher Columbus Awards National Championship Week and participated in the Christopher Columbus Academy, a custom-designed educational program conducted by scientists, engineers and educators. The program reveals the science and technology behind the thrills and excitement of the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios.® 

Positive Community Change

The Christopher Columbus Awards challenge teams of middle school students to explore and discover opportunities for positive change in their communities using science, technology, engineering and math. The program is now in its 17th year and has attracted more than 19,000 students from diverse backgrounds all across America. The program is sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation ( and is endorsed by the Association for Middle Level Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Past winners have included a team from San Diego, California, that secured a provisional patent for a specialized seat cushion design that uses sensory feedback to train people to maintain a healthy posture while sitting at a computer, and a team from Gahanna, Ohio, that designed a grocery store conveyor belt that constantly sanitizes.

Countrywide Participation

The program attracts many students who may not typically enter a science competition. The Christopher Columbus Foundation believes the teamwork aspect and community focus draw a broader range of students.

About the Sponsor

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent federal government agency created by congress in 1992 to encourage and support discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind. Please visit its website at

For more information, call 800-291-6020 or visit

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