Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland students have an opportunity to win $500 for their school’s STEM club, green team or project graduation with ecomaine’s Upcycle 2021 challenge.

The success of last year’s challenge caused ecomaine to bring the competition back for this year, said a release from ecomaine. Any school in the organization’s 70 member communities may participate, and entries must be submitted by March 19.

According to ecomaine, “Last year, the challenge saw entries like hair scrunchies made from old clothing, furniture made from old tires, and movie projectors made from all kinds of would-be-junk materials. The Upcycle Challenge invites students to find items that would normally be thrown away and create an all-new, super-useful invention from them.”

Kate Bender from Falmouth High School, who made hair scrunchies from old clothing, was last year’s winner, Matt Grondin, communications manager at ecomaine said.

As another example, MacKenzie Brewer and Amelia Graffam, Falmouth High School students, made a table out of an old skateboard and cans, Grondin said.

Two Falmouth High School students, MacKenzie Brewer and Amelia Graffam, made a table out of an old skateboard and cans in ecomaine’s Upcycle 2020 Challenge, said Matt Grondin of ecomaine. Matt Grondin photo

“The first year was even more successful than we could have hoped,” he said. “And while we realize that schools are challenged by the pandemic and uncertainty, our aim this year is to provide an activity that promotes creative thinking about our waste materials, and that can be achieved with teachers’ support, no matter the setting.”

The criteria for the competition includes incorporation of post-consumer materials, ingenuity and functionality of a new upcycled invention, inclusion of students in the design and construction process and teacher, coach, or administrative leadership and approval, said the release.

The winner and finalists will be selected by popular vote on Earth Day this year, said the release.

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