Fort Mill Times

Gaston Day students form Team Pollution Solution to protect Catawba River

Three Gaston Day middle school students heard a call to action when they learned the Catawba River, our source for drinking water, is one of the most endangered rivers in the country.

Katie Danis, Mary Hunter Russell and Grace Wynkoop were looking for a local environmental issue to turn into a science project for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. The threats to the Catawba River spurred the trio to form Team Pollution Solution.

The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is a national environmental sustainability competition for students in grades K to12. As part of the middle school competition, the students are challenged to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements in their local communities.

After determining polluted stormwater is one of the major threats to the Catawba River, the team researched the issues and developed data on stormwater pollution. Their conclusion: Education is a key factor in long-term change.

The team developed an educational program to teach students how to prevent stormwater pollution. The team created and is distributing science kits for elementary school teachers. The kits provide lesson plans and hands-on interactive materials that are easy to use in the classroom, as well as take-home material.

A group of teachers at Belmont Central evaluated their first kit, offering ideas and suggestions.

The team tested the program with the Gaston Day School fourth-grade students. The students saw how every day living creates pollution and learned how simple steps, such as picking up after the dog and bagging yard waste, keep stormwater drains clean and the river healthy.

To learn more about how to become a solution to pollution, visit the team’s Facebook page at