Checking up on APES

The completion of the classes projects vary from year to year.

Every year, Diamond Bar High School students taking Advanced Placement Environmental Science have the opportunity to propose projects that can make a positive impact on the world.

After brainstorming, each period narrows down their ideas to the most viable ones. While some of these projects are carried out, others are theoretical because of the lack of funds or materials needed to execute the plans.

For instance, Project Dynastep proposed producing energy from people walking on piezoelectric tiles, which release energy when pressure is placed on them. However, the predicted $30,000 price tag prevented the completion of the project.

Once the classes have settled on an environmental topic, they have a few months to make their projects a reality. The classes also need facilities manager Mike Bromberg’s approval before starting on their project, who has some responsibility in maintaining the projects.

In May, the classes present their respective projects to a panel of judges and are also graded by their APES teachers on how they have met the project guidelines.

“Ideally, we want all of the projects to be successful and continue into the future,” APES teacher Greg Valor said via email. “That is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, some die after the project is over. That is what we want to prevent.”

After the school year ends, other classes or clubs will maintain some of the projects, while others do not need additional supervision.

For example, One Flush to Save installed dual-flush toilets in several restrooms, while Spotlight installed solar panels to power two lights that illuminate the amphitheater.

“Some of the projects, honestly, they do fall out of sustainability, and it’s something that the team when they came up with their idea they did not figure out the next level,” APES teacher Kylance Malveaux said.

According to Valor, some successful projects include Operation Hydration (the water bottle refill station next to the Guidance Office) and Project Bluebird.

“Unfortunately, many [projects] have been destroyed because of the student population trampling the plants, breaking sprinklers or messing with the birdhouse,” Valor said. “We also lost two clutches of eggs [about 10 babies] because students were harassing the nest and the parents abandoned the nest.”

Currently located behind the 400 building, the greenhouse had been out of operation for at least 15 years.

Students who participated in The Magic Greenhouse project helped renovate the greenhouse by clearing out the trash and old plants, adding plants that are well-adapted to California’s climate and painting the greenhouse’s glass windows.

“[The greenhouse’s purpose is] to serve as a beacon of education about biodiversity and preservation of plant life in an urban environment,” senior project leader Rebecca Leung said via text message.

Leung plans to contact the school’s environmental club, Planet Arboretum, to take care of the greenhouse and to continue educating students about the importance of natural biodiversity (the variety of living organisms on Earth).

 Meanwhile, Valor also mentioned that the greenhouse is available for classes to use again.

“There isn’t much more to do but maintain [it]; with the big problems fixed, the greenhouse for the most part takes care of itself as a mostly closed system,” Leung said.