Earth Day celebrated at MHS

A dirtiest vehicle exhaust contest and nature scavenger hunt were among the ways science students celebrated Earth Day at Marietta High School Monday.

Reptiles weren’t part of his team’s scavenger hunt list, but junior William Murphy brought a garter snake back to general science teacher Vickie Johnson, who coordinated Monday’s events.

“I was walking by the water in a culvert that runs under the school and this snake crawled across the toe of my shoe,” Murphy said. “I just couldn’t pass it up.”

He later released the snake back into the woods near the school.

Scavenger hunt team members Kira Gillenwalters, Abby Giffin and Jessie Schneeberger brought back a more traditional array of items, including tree blossoms, grasses, stems and tree bark.

“I think the idea is to help us become more aware of our natural surroundings,” Gillenwalters said.

Her teacher agreed.

“For the past week we’ve been focusing on promoting nature and conservation of the environment,” Johnson said. “Our science classes have been collaborating on projects related to nature and the environment. Close to 200 students will participate today.”

Another activity Monday was the dirtiest vehicle exhaust competition, in which 16-year-old Nick Thieman won a free tune-up after his pickup truck blackened the toe of a white sock stretched over the truck’s exhaust pipe.

The truck exhausts from fellow contestants Chance Meaux and Derek Schaad created some gray spots on their white socks, but Thieman was the clear winner.

John’s Auto Repair on Muskingum Drive donated the tune-up prize.

Science teacher James Ramsey said the exhaust contest was a good way for students to see how some pollutants get into the air we breathe.

“A blackened sock may indicate the vehicle’s catalytic converter is not operating properly or that the engine needs new spark plugs,” he said. “Or the truck could be burning oil, which puts more particulates into the air.”

Ramsey told the students that in many large metropolitan areas of the country vehicle exhaust emissions are closely monitored and must pass annual inspections showing the emissions meet mandated standards.

Johnson said her 11th grade students also researched one of six major air pollutants over the last week as part of the Earth Day celebration.

Other activities included the crafting of a variety of bird feeders made out of all natural materials.

“We made ours out of two orange peels suspended by some string and filled with birdseed,” said junior Cheyenne Warne.

“I think Earth Day is a good idea, but I don’t think people really pay much attention when it’s over,” she said.