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Students 'Go Green' In San Francisco

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Students 'Go Green' In San Francisco

Environment

Students 'Go Green' In San Francisco

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. Now it's time for All Tech Considered.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: Today we're going to explore the next frontier of technology. Our tech advisor Omar Gallaga of the Austin-American Statesman has been attending a conference for industry insiders called South By Southwest Interactive. We'll check in with him in a few minutes to hear about what he's found. First, we're going to hear about cell phones at school. Cell phones are usually off-limits at school but that's not the case at Urban High School in San Francisco, where students are using new GPS equipped phones to help reduce their environmental impact. From member station KQED, David Gorn reports.

(Soundbite of laughing)

DAVID GORN: You could call it a social experiment.

Mr. MARTIN GUTIERREZ(ph): So the idea is that eventually, you know, we're going to have this application….

GORN: Martin Gutierrez has handed out 25 brand new cell phones, loaded up with all the bells and apps: Internet, camera, GPS maps along with one application that's not found on another cell phone on the planet. These phones are set up to map your carbon foot print, at least how much you travel by car. They automatically record your movement every 30 seconds, so they can tell whether you're walking, standing still or driving. And then you can hook up to a laptop and see a map of all your trips for the day measuring your carbon output.

Mr. GUTIERREZ: And let's see, write down.

Unidentified Woman: From home to school.

Mr. GUTIERREZ: Home to school.

GORN: High schoolers Julia Evans and Chapin Boyer(ph) have tried it out and they say once you see the trail of your car trips, you start to think about walking or biking or busing and not getting in that car for the quarter mile lift to school.

Mr. CHAPIN BOYER: You've got to take a second to think about it now. I used to just be like, oh…

Ms. EVANS: (unintelligible)

Mr. VOYEUR: …into the car, but now it's sort of, why don't I just take a bike. I mean, it'd be zero (unintelligible)

GORN: That willingness to change behavior is one reason why teens were targeted by the Go Green foundation for this project. Nokia and AT&T contributed the phones and service. Gutierrez heads the foundation and he's a man on a mission. He says soon a GPS application will be standard on cell phones. That's when this Go Green application can really expand, he hopes, from the 25 teens here to seed groups in another schools and beyond.

Mr. GUTIERREZ: Then they can introduce it to their peers and hopefully, virally that will catch on and then we'll have a whole new generation that will be much more conscientious about their choices that they're making.

Unidentified Man: You (unintelligible)

Ms. EVANS: (unintelligible). Oh, (unintelligible)

GORN: Senior Julia Evans says that most of the teenager she knows have one political thing in common: They wish they could do something about climate change. And this, she says, could be their opportunity.

Ms. EVANS: It's like you can think about it and want to do it, but to actually make that conscious decision to take another form of transportation is where the real change lies.

GORN: The program expands to three more San Francisco schools later this month. And then a competition between those schools will see which one of them can save the biggest piece of the planet.

For NPR News, I'm David Gorn.

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