Eighth graders in Brittany Rae’s class at Oldfield Middle School are dedicated to preserving the environment and have built a prototype using 3D printed materials to help filter debris from the nearby Nissequogue River in Smithtown. 

The six students that comprise OMS PALS, which stands for Observing Marine Safety: Protecting Aquatic Life Squad, began working on their project in early December as part of the National Geographic Society’s GeoChallenge. 

The challenge is available to students in fourth through eighth grade and encourages students to research real-world environmental problems to form creative solutions. 

Ms. Rae’s students – Sydney Bayer, McKenzie Coleman, Kerri Gadamowitz, Brooke Cheskes, Tara Gosselin and Maeve Baron – created a conveyor belt to take plastic out of the ocean and have already begun to dispose of the debris by feeding it to wax worms. They have also been working with technology to create augmented reality sandboxes, motors and a 3D map of the Nissequogue River.

According to the National Geographic Society website, teams with the best projects can advance to the regional and national levels of the competition.