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Classroom Challenge Winners

The Classroom Challenge is no longer active,
but this site subsection with the former program's handbook, resources, and web series remains available as our Teacher Toolkit to help you tackle your local water issues!

Congratulations to our 2022-2023 participating classrooms!

We received many spectacular submissions this year from classrooms throughout California. Once again, our team is proud of the amazing work and dedication demonstrated statewide from each and every participating classroom. Thank you for doing your part to care for California’s water!


Learn about our winning classrooms below!

D.R.I.P. (Drought Intelligence Repair Plan)

Grand Prize Bonita Street Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: D.R.I.P. (Drought Intelligence Repair Plan)

TEACHER NAME: Heidi Ballard

CITY: Carson


With sustained drought conditions prompting articles and segments in news cycles throughout California, Ballard’s class began researching water conservation, taking local field trips to learn about water usage, native plants and wildlife, and how the drought affected bodies of water in their community. Then, the students turned to their school campus and measured water waste from automatic sinks in bathrooms and hoses used by custodial staff. The students shared their findings with their school administration and set out on a larger awareness campaign to educate their peers and community about water conservation. Ballard’s students took their project to the next level with the breadth and thoroughness of their awareness campaign, making a presentation, PSA video, and native plant seed bombs to share with their community, and posters, bookmarks, and comic books to share with other students. The project continues as they attempt to enact water-saving changes in school facilities.

“Water” Ways to Collect Trash?

Second Place Sierra View Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: “Water” Ways to Collect Trash?

TEACHER NAME: Emily Akimoto

CITY: Chico


Akimoto’s students saw news reports about increased trash and litter around Chico and in local creeks. Concerned about this issue, students decided to find ways to clear waterways of trash and protect wildlife. After researching devices like seabins, students designed, tested, and built a successful prototype device of their own for collecting trash from their local waterways. After coming to a successful design, Akimoto’s fifth-graders were committed to sharing their project with others to protect the critical bodies of water throughout California. Students emailed and shared their project with local officials, news outlets, and California Governor, Gavin Newsom. The class also created a video to share with their school teaching other students not to litter to prevent more trash from entering waterways.

C.A.T. Crew 2.0 Waving Goodbye to Plastic Pollution!

Third Place Bonita Street Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: C.A.T. Crew 2.0 Waving Goodbye to Plastic Pollution!

TEACHER NAME: Christine Gaytan

CITY: Carson


Gaytan’s students were passionate about protecting oceans. Understanding the harm plastics pose to California’s environment, students embarked on a campaign to reduce single use plastics and increase reusable water bottle use in their school community. The class created posters and public service announcements to educate other students, staff, and families about plastic waste in the ocean. They organized a sticker design contest at school to increase reusable water bottle usage and conducted pre- and post-assessments to evaluate their efforts. The students even designed prototype basketball hoops that fit on recycling bins to encourage students to recycle.

Operation Drainage

Fourth Place Sierra View Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Operation Drainage

TEACHER NAME: Whitney Toste

CITY: Chico


After recent heavy rains, Mrs. Toste’s students wondered why it was not enough to pull California out of the drought or even lift water usage restrictions at home, and wanted to help solve Butte County’s lack of reserve water. They learned about aquifers and that the rains still had not recharged their local aquifers. Inferring that cement and paving materials were preventing water from entering reserves, they were inspired to find a solution. With two new building development projects in the area, students were able to think about water conservation from the perspective of building plans. After learning what is being done for aquifers from the City of Chico Environmental Impact Department and completing an experiment around drainage materials, the class decided to share what they learned. They contacted the new building development projects to recommend the best material for drainage and organized an awareness campaign at school.

Every Drop Matters!

Fifth Place Little Chico Creek Elementary

PROJECT TITLE: Every Drop Matters!

TEACHER NAME: Kristen Thomas

CITY: Chico


Ms. Thomas’ class researched how the drought affects the environment, especially in their local community. The students were especially interested in plants and low-water landscapes. They spoke to representatives from the Department of Water Resources, the Butte Environmental Council, and River Partners, as well as attended field trips to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and the Gateway Science Museum in Chico as research. They learned about native species and habitats as a means of water conservation and wanted to help the environment by encouraging people to use native and drought resistant plants. Students planted native species to conserve water and rebuild natural habitats in the area of their school and local creek.