On May 14, 2016, the eighth grade Explore 2000 team of Daniel McClain and Aaron Joshua with Crew Captain, Frank Colaluca won first place in the recycled regatta at the third annual Earthfest in Overpeck Park. It was the first time the Explore teams such an event with these boats. Afterwards, Daniel McClain said, "I was scared until we got into the boat and then I was like, 'Oh, this is going to float.' I think we were scared just because we knew we built it from the ground up." The event is the highlight of the annual celebration of the outdoors. The Earthfest event is hosted by the Hackensack Riverkeeper, North Jersey's leading advocate for clean water.
Amid green vendors, live music, and other activities meant to teach and demonstrate the reduce, reuse and recycle theme, the Regatta is a race on the Hackensack Creek in vessels made from used and recycled materials. At least 80% of the vessel must be made of such materials. Plastic bags and Styrofoam are not allowed because they are damaging to the waterways. The racing vessels have to be self-propelled with bonus point awarded for homemade paddles. They must contain at least two people, including a designated Crew Captain. Strict safety rules must be followed and safety gear including life vests must be worn. To win, the team must remain in the vessel and it should cross the finish line with all pieces on board. Any part that falls off must be retrieved in the spirit of discarding nothing in the waterways. Teams have to carry logos of any sponsors they have and the logos of the Earthfest sponsors too. Teams are expected to raise money for Hackensack Riverkeeper and an award is given for the team that raises the most money. The complete list of requirements for the annual race are here.
The Explore 2000 students in the Hands On Learning and Design (HOLD) program which promotes experimental learning, designed, built and launched two vessels made of recycled materials. Their projects were made from used pickle barrels, PVC pipe and empty soda bottles. The eighth grade team rowed to the first place win and the second boat, rowed by the seventh grade team of Andrew Kibalo and Angel Pinto led by Crew Captain Lauren Norcia, tied for second place. An article from NorthJersey.com can be found here.
Ms. Amy Lin-Rodriguez, Explore 2000's principal said, "The Recycled Regatta was a great opportunity for our learners to combine physical fitness with STEM, under the supportive leadership of facilitator Frank Colaluca."
President of the HCST Foundation which supplies financial support for the HOLD program, Daniel Gans said, "Congratulations to all the participating students."
Frank J. Gargiulo, HCST district superintendent, added, "This is a fine achievement that demonstrates authentic learning and I'm proud of the work of the student and their instructors,"
HCST Foundation Executive Director Linda J. Quentzel said, "We were proud to support the HOLD program and we are glad to see this endeavor having success. A hearty congrats to Aaron and Daniel on their victory!"