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Colorado Students Win Big By Teaching Others About Endangered Species

By Jeff Todd

LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) -- A literature teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School developed the concept and curriculum for a new kind of learning, and in just two short years, the class has already started to accumulate accolades.

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"We worked really hard and we were just really happy to get it," Jessica Kalloor said about the Lexus Eco Challenge.

The Innovation and Design thinking class challenges students to think outside the box every few days. Kristie Letter found the curriculum by studying what Stanford, MIT and other top institutions are doing. Peak to Peak brought it to high schoolers.

"We do a bunch of competitions which have a lot of prize money and overall just help us," said Kalloor, a sophomore at Peak to Peak.

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At the beginning of the year, Letter threw out a challenge to students, like any other normal class period. Last month, the students found out they won $10,000 and are moving on in the Lexus Eco Challenge.

"The challenge was to do something with land and climate. We wanted to do endangered animals," said Luke Wolsko, a sophomore at Peak to Peak.

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The team created a brochure, social media account, and website with games to educate kids about endangered species in Colorado and what they can do to help.

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"They thought it was cool. They liked the games which was like cool because that was one of the big things I wanted to do to them," said Wolsko.

The Peak to Peak Charter School will continue working to a final deadline for the Lexus Eco Challenge in March. The grand prize is $30,000.

"Maybe we'll try and make a bigger impact on kids from other schools too," said Wolsko.

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"With everyone working together, the whole team, I think we can win it all," said Kalloor.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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