Texas Tech has presented their GREEN Award to a Whiteface Elementary teacher.

Tech’s International Center for Arid and Semiarid Land Studies presented its annual GREEN award to Laura Wilbanks, a science instructor at Whiteface Elementary School.

The award was given due to a project by Wilbanks titled “Arsenic: It’s What’s for Dinner.” Students in the “Science Rocks U” science, technology, engineering, and mathematics enrichment program, chose the impact of arsenic and the health of future generations as the environmental challenge they wanted to address.

The Environmental Protection Agency limits the amount of arsenic in drinking water, but the group says that the water in Cochran County has exceeded this limit for a decade, and rural residents who depend on well water do not generally test for arsenic.

Wilbanks and her students have tried different approaches toward a solution, and the elementary-aged students will partner with Texas Tech and West Texas A&M University to conduct long-term research and experiments to discover a native plant that can hyper-accumulate arsenic.

“The work being conducted by Whiteface Science Rocks U students has been interesting to them and has given us multiple opportunities to interact with scientists across a broad range of fields,” said Wilbanks. “It is the goal of the Science Rocks U program to inspire children to enter the STEM fields upon high school graduation.”

The GREEN award program requires K-12 educators to submit a description of the environmental challenge the group is wishing to address, and an outline describing how the solution will be carried out.

The winner is selected on the criteria that the project results are measurable, sustainable, has an impact outside of the classroom, and the effective project execution and tracking of development during a semester.