Scarlett D’Aprile creates anti-idling educational materials and earns highest award in Girl Scouts
Teaching people about everyday habits that can help the environment comes naturally to Scarlett D’Aprile, a Bridgewater-Raritan High School student and Girl Scout. After learning about how idling cars negatively impact the environment and public health, Scarlett decided to tackle the issue through her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the highest award available in Girl Scouts. RideWise had the wonderful opportunity to partner with Scarlett on her project, where she created several activities and lesson plans for students, both in younger grades and in high school driver’s education classes, focusing on anti-idling and the effect of gas-powered vehicles on air quality.
The inspiration for Scarlett’s project came after RideWise led an anti-idling workshop with her Girl Scout troop in 2020. Using an air quality monitor, Scarlett and her troop measured the air quality in Duke Island Park, noting how exhaust from passing and idling vehicles affected the air. After learning how idling vehicles can cause breathing problems and contribute to climate change, Scarlett decided to pursue a project that would help improve air quality in both Somerset County and the world. “Car pollution affects the quality of the air in our local community and also contributes to the global environment,” said Scarlett. “Educating people about the causes and effects of car pollution on our air quality will help them to make better decisions about car use.”
Scarlett worked with Caty Whalen, RideWise’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Manager, and Sara Catherine Lichon, RideWise’s Communications and Outreach Manager and a past Gold Award recipient, to create lesson plans and activities for all ages focusing on anti-idling education. A specific audience Scarlett wanted to target was high school students taking driver’s education classes, since they would soon be new drivers on the road and could make a difference by not idling their cars. Since some high school students may also be in the market to buy their own car, Scarlett also wanted to teach them about alternative fuel and electric vehicles. “The carbon footprint of cars is important for teenagers to learn about, since they will soon be driving and possibly purchasing their own car,” explained Scarlett.
For grades 1-4, Scarlett made several lesson plans with hand-on air quality experiments and coloring pages. For driver’s education students, Scarlett has a Jeopardy game, posters, lesson curriculum, and information on electric vehicles for new drivers.
“Working with Scarlett these past few months has been enjoyable. It’s wonderful to see the impact she’s making within her school, local community, and girl scout organization. I know wherever she decides to go in life her hard work ethic will take her far,” said Caty. “The materials she’s provided to RideWise will continue to help our local communities within Somerset County to educate students on anti-idling and other climate change lessons. Students will know how to help municipalities better to limit air pollution and toxic fumes. I’m excited to implement these lessons in drivers’ education programs for high schoolers, as well as elementary aged students also.”
The lessons and activites are available for teachers, scout troops, and other organizations to use within Somerset County or even around the world. To use these lessons/activities, visit our website. To work with RideWise on a badge or activity with your Girl Scout/Boy Scout troop, email firstname.lastname@example.org.