The MASS STEM Week Challenge is on!

All Massachusetts students have the opportunity to tackle real-world sustainability problems by participating in the Mass STEM Week Zero Waste challenge. Send us pictures of your ideas and accomplishments info@sustainablewellesley.com.

Wellesley’s MASS STEM week free activities include:

– “Picturing Yourself in Science”
Museum Curator, Professor at the Richard Glider Graduate School at the American Museum
of Natural History (amnh.org), Explorer and Researcher, Dr. Mark Siddall will be sharing his passion for scientific learning and the power of images with students of all ages throughout the district.

– STEM Week Lawn Sign
Host one of the many inspirational STEM sign quotes in your yard to support STEM week. We especially appreciate the earth/climate action signs. Order them here by October 11.

– October 21, 6-8 pm WHS Library, 3rd Floor
Women in STEM Organized by WHS students
All are welcome to join Marina Hatsopoulos, an entrepreneur, director and angel investor, to hear her share her experiences as Chairperson of the Board and investor in Levitronix Technologies, and Director of Cynosure.

– Oct. 24, 7 pm WHS Library, 3rd Floor
Career Discussion: Paging All Aspiring Doctors…
Join Jason Kim PhD, Professor of Molecular Medicine at UMass Medical School as he shares his insights from having served on the MD/PhD Admissions Committee. He will offer advice and
discuss how to prepare for a career in medicine as a high school student and as a college student. Register here.

– October 23
Beautiful Patterns
Identifying patterns is one skill that builds the foundation of the computational process. Practice hands-on activities around fun themes like How to choose a BFF or How to pack a suitcase that are tied by concept to the sorting and searching algorithms of computer literacy. In school field trip for select students.

– October 19, 3-4 pm
October 26, 9-10 am
iCode Wellesley Campus, 73 Central Street
Robotics Workshop
Students aged 6-8 will work on Lego WeDo with Scratch, and students aged 9-12 will focus on Lego MindStorms EV3 and Sphero.

Kelly Caiazzo

The STEM EXPO’s Sustainability Challenge is back. Get ready Wellesley students!

Submit your project promoting a local resource, policy or behavior change that makes Wellesley greener. These can be in the form of an advertisement, op-ed or essay, video commercial, infographic, poem, music or another form of audio/visual artwork. Convince your audience that it’s a great way for them to help the environment!

Entry Criteria:

  • Submissions are welcome from K-12 students who are residents of Wellesley and/or enrolled in the Wellesley Public Schools

  • Deadline to enter is Friday, March 15, 2019

  • Entries must be entirely original content (no clips from movies or other videos)

  • Videos must be shorter than 3 minutes, essays must be fewer than 500 words, and infographics or advertisements must be legible on a single 8.5×11 page

  • Entry must explain the problem that you are proposing to solve, and how promoting a current local resource, policy change, or behavior change will make Wellesley greener.  The entry must provide a convincing argument for the positive impact this resource or activity can make.

  • Entries may be submitted by an individual, or a team of up to 3 students

  • Entries must include appropriate citation

Entry Submissions:

  • Submit your entry here

  • Entries to be uploaded on the WEF website must be less than 100mb

  • Submitting your entry authorizes [Wellesley Green Schools, etc.] to post either the submission, or a photo thereof, on display in public arenas in the township – including but not limited to public libraries, school display cabinets, or on the STEM Expo website.

  • Winning entries for Elementary, Middle and High School levels will be selected by Wellesley Green Schools

  • Winners will be recognized at the Wellesley STEM Expo on April 6, 2019 and receive a VIP tour of a featured exhibit, and have their project published in town newspapers by the Wellesley Education Foundation

Questions that Projects Should Answer and Topic Ideas

Questions to Answer:

  • What environmental problems does this organization/resource/behavior change help solve? Provide data or examples of how the environment is negatively impacted by this problem.

  • What is the positive impact of your topic? How does it help solve the problem? Be as specific and concrete as possible.

  • What can Wellesley residents do to help or how can they participate? Convince them this resource deserves their support or participation!


The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator:


The EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator:


The Water Footprint Calculator:


The Footprint Network:


Remember to cite your sources when you’re providing specific data! We’ll accept any style citation, provided it’s clear where data in your project came from.

Topic Ideas:

Here are some ideas to get you started!


How can buying second-hand clothing reduce our environmental footprint? Create an ad for Shopper’s Corner, the Second Hand Store at Schofield: https://www.facebook.com/schofieldshopperscorner/

Or, create an ad for another reusability resource in town, such as the Wellesley Free Library (https://www.wellesleyfreelibrary.org/) or the Wellesley RDF reusables area (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhLOHGydhUM)

Gas Leaks:

After explosions in our state and general unhealthy aspects of gas coming into the state and into our homes, Wellesley’s NRC is concerned about gas leaks. Could you make Wellesley residents aware of this problem and to encourage national grid to fix them? Wellesley Gas Leaks: https://www.wellesleyma.gov/449/Gas-Leaks

Reduce Plastic Waste:

Reduce waste – use less plastic.  China is refusing more and more recycling, explain the plastic problem and provide some ideas and solutions for reducing plastic consumption in our town. What else can we do besides #SkipTheStrawWellesley:http://www.sustainablewellesley.com/skipthestrawwellesley/?


What are some options in town for reducing our reliance on single-occupancy vehicles? (Commuter rail, school buses, town bus, MBTA or carpool, walking, biking, etc.) Create an ad explaining the impact of transportation and providing some solutions. Or, create an ad explaining the effects of idling and encouraging people not to idle:http://www.sustainablewellesley.com/no-idling/

Environmental Food Choices:

How can making some easy switches with what we eat and how we dispose of leftovers add up to a positive impact for our planet? Meatless Mondays: https://www.meatlessmonday.com/ , Wellesley Public School’s Food Recovery: https://wellesleyma.gov/1127/School-Recycling-and-Food-Recovery The Wellesley RDF Food Waste Drop-Off Program:https://www.wellesleyma.gov/899/Food-Waste-Program or why to buy local food from The Wellesley Farmer’s Market:https://www.wellesleyfarmersmarket.com/, Shrink your food footprint: http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/shrink-your-food-footprint

Protect our Pollinators:

What we plant and the type of chemicals we use on our lawns and gardens has a real impact on our eco system. What happens to the lawn chemicals we use? How can we support pollinators in our community? Resources: Safer Lawns Initiative: Pledge to Be Pesticide Free – http://www.sustainablewellesley.com/pledge-to-be-pesticide-free/ and Sustainable Wellesley’s Milkweed for Monarchs: http://www.sustainablewellesley.com/milkweed-for-monarchs/

Energy at Home:

What are some ways to conserve our energy or get it from a more sustainable source? Resources: Wellesley’s Power to Choose Program: https://www.wellesleyma.gov/261/Voluntary-Renewable-Energy, Get a Mass-Save Home Energy Assessment:  https://www.masssave.com/en/saving/energy-assessments/homeowners/, Solar Panels:

Protect our Resources:

Did you know that we have groups in Wellesley that work together to protect our waterways from litter, chemical runoff, etc? Explain what they do, why it’s important, and how residents can help. The Wetlands Protection Committee: http://ma-wellesley.civicplus.com/421/Wetlands-Protection-Committee, Friends of Brookside: http://friendsofbrookside.org/

Sample sustainability submission (credit Stella Glassenberg of Wellesley, MA)







Judging Criteria:

Submissions will be scored on a scale from 1-5, based on the following criteria:

  • How well does the project explain the problem and its environmental impact, using data / examples?

  • How well does the project provide a specific solution to the problem, with data or examples on how this organization/behavior/resource makes a positive impact?

  • How compelling, convincing and creative is the project?

  • Are sources cited, does the project meet length requirements, and does it have correct grammar and data?

A winner will be selected by panelists from Wellesley Green Schools from each school level (Elementary (K-5), Middle (6-8) and High (9-12)).

Phyllis Theermann

Sustainability Challenge 2017 header
The Wellesley Education Foundation, the Wellesley Municipal Light and Wellesley Green Schools launched the 2nd annual STEM EXPO Sustainability Challenge. This contest is designed to engage young people  by inviting them to write an essay, story, poem, or persuasive argument; create an artwork/model or make a video about how renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc.) might impact their lives and the environment in the future.

To enter the Sustainability Challenge, participants must live or go to school in Wellesley. For more information and to submit, please click here by March 24th.

“With nearly 90 homes in Wellesley powered by solar, and the numerous wind turbines scattered across New England, students see this form of energy every day,” said Jessica Stanton of Wellesley Green Schools. “This Challenge offers them a non-traditional way to get more familiar with renewable energy and an understanding of how it provides energy to our homes and businesses today, and in the years to come,” Stanton said.  

Creative and visionary winners will be honored at the Wellesley STEM EXPO on April 8th with special VIP access, refreshments, award recognition, and a chance to be interviewed on television.  This is also a  great launching pad for state and federal student environmental awards.

The EXPO, hosted by Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF), is a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exposition. On Saturday, April 8th, Wellesley High School will be transformed into an interactive science center, offering hands-on exhibits, workshops and a student work showcase. Mark your calendars to be inspired by the 140+ exhibits and workshops between 10am – 2pm; the Keynote speaker (Dr. Ed Bertschinger) from 2-3pm, and a meet the STEM Professional’s event for High Schoolers from 3-4pm.

“WEF, a charitable organization dedicated to  advancing innovation and excellence in the Wellesley Public Schools, is proud to present the 2017 Sustainability Challenge,” said Susan Ryan, Co-President of WEF. “Through the funding of programs and grants for over thirty years, WEF has championed THE LOVE OF LEARNING in our district — from the first day of preschool, through high school graduation and beyond — and this Challenge continues to promote this love of learning,” Ryan said.

WEF works to unite the entire community in enthusiastic support of Wellesley’s schools, and is going even further to support another community project: Wellesley’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Wellesley’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint 25% by the year 2020 requires commitment from all different sectors of the community and Wellesley’s MLP is proud to be doing its part,” said Debra J. Healy, Assistant Director of the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant. “Through our Power to Choose program, we offer residents and local businesses the opportunity to elect to have some or all of their energy come from renewable energy sources. “Choosing renewable energy, in many cases for less than the price of a cup of coffee a month, will not only help the town meet its carbon reduction goal, it will improve Wellesley’s national ranking for voluntary renewable energy from it’s current number 3 position,” Healy said.