The World Must Be Green To Help Combat COVID-19
COVID-19 has darkened our planet.
But a group of students from Cedar Hill’s Collegiate High School believe that the world can still be green – and, in fact, must be to help combat the deadly virus.
Five senior members of the school’s Green Club, Paula Gallegos Perez, Donna Duong, Susan Salas, Tiffany Vuong and Thea Loza shared their research recently at the Global Council for Science & Environment (GCSE), a virtual conference. The presentation was titled “Transportation Behavior, COVID and Air Quality.”
“Our presentation and research made a big impression both during and after the conference. Most of our guests were surprised that we were only in high school,” Loza said.
“Their warm comments on this project motivate us to carry on our environmentalism past school and into our careers.”
The group’s research found that, though COVID-19 affected the particulate matter in the air, this impact was only truly visible in periods where quarantine was heavily enforced in China, India, and the U.S. Harmful particulate matter only decreased for a couple of months before returning to its previous levels.
Improving Air Quality
“If nations, and hopefully the entire world, came together to decrease transportation behavior as it was during COVID-19, we might observe a positive lasting effect in our air quality,” Gallegos Perez said.
As a group, the quintet gathered together virtually and worked as a team to successfully create a poster that elaborates more on the topic.
“It was a great topic, especially because of the pandemic, so our group was very engaged,” Vuong said.
Because Collegiate juniors and seniors attend Dallas College-Cedar Valley during their last two years of high school, Gallegos Perez connected with Dr. Maria Boccalandro, Dallas College’s Director of Sustainability and Programs.
The conference was previously known as the National Council for Science & Environment, but since approximately 100 nations from around the world participated, the name was updated.
Most Important Science & Environmental Conference
The event has been billed as the most important science and environmental conference in the United States. It features science and policy makers talking to each other to ensure that scientific research is aligned with policy that impacts the environment.
Normally, the conference would be held in Washington D.C. This year, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it was held virtually.
Boccalandro recruited Gallegos Perez, who then encouraged her four classmates to participate in the conference.
Gallegos Perez is the group’s president, while Duong serves as vice president, Salas is Secretary, and Vuong is the historian.
Research With An Impact
“We have done research many times before, but this project made a huge impact and I am glad it got out to many people. The feedback that we received was unexpected and we look forward to continuing research,” Vuong said.
“In a deeper sense, our research showed that with enough consistent volume, we can inflict lasting change. And it was not only our research. At the conference it was surreal to see all the teamwork and effort put into their projects,” Loza added.
Salas said quite simply the research has opened her eyes and those of her teammates how the pandemic has affected our air quality. It is something everyone should be aware of.
Pursuing An Everlasting Change
“It has shown me that it is important to consider not only the air quality in our area, but also consider the air quality in different parts of the world,” she said. “If enough individuals became aware and held enough knowledge of the current situation, we could pursue an everlasting change.”
Duong noted that humans and their actions hold a significant amount of power in the environment.
“We have the ability to alter the air’s quality. Thus, if we were to decrease transportation behavior as a whole, it would positively impact the environment,” she said.
All four students plan to attend colleges that have Green Clubs and/or Environmental Clubs. Thus, they will be able to continue to do research.
Loza is deciding between the University of Texas – Arlington (UTA) and Sam Houston State. Vuong and Duong have committed to UTA, Salas is deciding between a couple of out-of-state colleges, and Gallegos is deciding between University of Texas in Austin, UT-Dallas, Texas A&M and UTA.
Bright Futures Focused on Science
As for their careers, Loza wants to work in federal or international security.
“Deduction, mystery, and action have always been an interest of mine, so I want to pursue a career in criminal justice,” she said.
“My goal is to become a sports medicine doctor and hopefully work for a Professional sports team. I love taking care and helping people, and I also love sports, so this is a job that interests me the most,” Vuong said.
Salas plans to major in business and later pursue a criminal justice degree.
“All in all, I do believe it is up to fate on what career I would end up pursuing,” she said.
“Ever since seventh grade, I knew I was immensely interested in the mind and brain,” Gallegos said. “I considered many careers that primarily dealt with the study of these things and found myself impassioned by neuroscience. From my understanding, we currently have a foggy map of the brain as many of its properties and functions are yet to be discovered. Because of this, the neuroscience field feels like an endless learning journey filled with riveting discoveries.”
Continuing Research, Helping Others
Duong also is considering a career in the medical field.
“With everything that happened during this pandemic, I decided to aspire to become a nurse. I noticed how important the job is, and I want to help others and leave a lasting impact on their lives,” Duong said.
“All of the feedback that my team has received was positive throughout the entire process. Everyone we talked to was amazed at how high schoolers were behind the project because they assumed that we were in university. The experience has been entirely worthwhile as we could see the excitement and motivation that the project brought to others. Personally, as I enter university, I look forward to continuing this research.”