2015 KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks

Steele Creek wins first in Autobell Creek Challenge

Team photo of Steele Creek Elementary with Autobell CEO Chuck Howard. Photo: Courtesy Autobell Car Wash

A team of fourth- and fifth-grade students from Steele Creek Elementary School in Charlotte won first place Saturday, March 4, in the second Autobell Car Wash Creek Challenge at UNC Charlotte.

The morning contest capped weeks of study and activities focusing on science and water quality topics as well as local history and geography. Eight Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools participated: Elizabeth Traditional Elementary, Endhaven Elementary, Irwin Academic Center Elementary, Huntersville Elementary, Lake Wylie Elementary, Lebanon Road Elementary, Parkside Elementary and Steele Creek Elementary. All but Lebanon Road took part in the March 4 activities at UNC Charlotte. Winning second place overall was Irwin Academic Center, with third place going to Lake Wylie Elementary.

Activities included building model dams and model aquifers and displaying knowledge of the water cycle, aquifers, aquatic plants and animals, and related vocabulary words.

The morning began with the Water Wizard Quiz, a spelling bee-like activity in which teams of two students per school answered questions about Mecklenburg County’s creeks. Questions included these:

  • Who owns the water in Charlotte’s creeks? (Answer: We all do, they are waters of the state.)
  • How many miles of creeks are there in Mecklenburg County? (Answer: About 3,000)
  • How did Sugar Creek get its name? (Answer: From the Sugaree Indians, who once lived in this area.)

A two-student team from Lake Wylie Elementary School won the Water Wizard Quiz.

This two-student team from Lake Wylie Elementary won the Water Wizard Quiz. Photo: Courtesy Autobell Car Wash

The yearly event is sponsored by Autobell Car Wash, whose CEO, Chuck Howard, was a judge in the Water Wizard Quiz and gave out the prizes to the winners in each event.  Prizes were medals, gift cards, team trophies and two iPad minis for the Water Wizard Quiz champions.

The Autobell Creek Challenge is produced by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the UNC Charlotte Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. Autobell in 2015 proposed creating and funding the project as a follow-up to the KEEPING WATCH on WATER: City of Creeks project in 2015, a partnership of the urban institute and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture.

Teachers who took part were enthusiastic. The coach for this year’s winning team, Gregg Petty, science and technology educator at Steele Creek, also had a team of fourth- and-fifth-graders in the inaugural Creek Challenge in June 2016. “I have kids begging me to be on this team – third-graders!” he said Saturday. He also said the students hope to adopt Steele Creek. (See Adopt-A-Stream information here.)

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute is a nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach center at UNC Charlotte. Founded in 1969, it is the oldest research institute at UNC Charlotte and provides research and analysis services around economic, environmental, and social issues affecting the Charlotte region.

The UNC Charlotte Center for STEM Education, part of the Cato College of Education, matches the STEM and education resources of the university to the needs of surrounding schools to improve K-12 mathematics, science and engineering education in North Carolina.

Autobell Car Wash, founded in Charlotte, is the nation’s second-largest conveyor car wash company, with 77 locations in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland.  All Autobell washes treat 100 percent of wash water used and recycle up to 100 percent. The company, which remains privately held and operated by the family of founder Charles Howard Sr., has received numerous recognitions from utilities and governments for its environmental commitment.

The second-place winning team from Irwin Academic Center. Photo: Courtesy Autobell Car Wash
Lake Wylie Elementary won third place overall. Photo: Courtesy Autobell Car Wash