Contest Lures Kids Into Learning About Trees

September 15, 2010

By JB Davis - Benicia.Patch.com

The contest was announced in Benicia High teacher Teresa Finn's Academic Decathalon class and started with a simple quiz.  The questions: What does jpeg stand for?  What are the coordinates of Benicia High School? What binomial nomenclature is included in the botanical name of a tree? 

The contest, the Great Benicia Tree Science Challenge, is sponsored by the city of Benicia and the Benicia Tree Foundation and has two purposes. First, organizers hope students take some time to learn about trees and their importance in the urban landscape. Second, they plan  use the considerable brain power of Benicia youth to help create an inventory of trees on private land in Benicia.

The Benicia Tree Foundation will use results from the Tree Science Challenge to help property owners manage trees on private land. "We need to know what we have so we can develop a plan to maintain our urban forest," said Benicia Tree Foundation Executive Director Wolfram Alderson. 

What contest is complete without a prize?  In this case it's a fully loaded iPad.  And it's not for grownups.

The contest is open to all fifth- to 12th-graders who reside in Benicia.  Each contestant must pre-register at www.beniciatrees.org/treecontest

Here's how the contest works.  Students are trying to identify as many different tree species on non-public land as they can in Benicia.  The city received a grant to inventory trees on public land so contestants shouldn't enter those trees.  All entries must be submitted by email to beniciatree@gmail.com and must include the botanical name of the tree in the email subject line.

Each entry must include a jpeg format picture of the tree, the name of the contestant submitting the entry and the coordinates of the tree.  Contestants may submit as many entries as they want and each entry should include only one tree.  The winner will be the student who identifies the most trees.  The winner must be present at the Arbor Day celebration, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Oct. 16 in City Park.