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The second trip the Geosphere participated in was a trip to the TREX decking facility in Winchester.. After signing in, students were seated in a conference room where they learned how TREX decking was made. The co-manager of the company passed around samples of recycled plastic, recycled wood, the compressed version of the two, and the final wood-like product. He also took the students through the process step-by-step, from the time TREX receives the recycled material to the final decking product. "Today, I learned that Trex products are made out of 50% plastic, 50% wood, and it's all recycled," Scott remembers.


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After learning about the process, students were treated to a tour of the TREX facility. First, students went to one of the labs, where they saw how TREX tests the strength of its boards; they even got to see TREX workers break the boards! Next, students were led over to the actual factory, where they were taken up and down the production line. Jordon remarks, "My favorite part of today was going into the factory and seeing the process of making the wood." He and the other students witnessed firsthand each step of the procedure, from the crushing of the recycled materials to the cooling of the boards to the final cutting and distribution of the product.

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At the conclusion of the tour, all students headed back to the original conference room where they were given gift bags that contained different TREX souvenirs. They also discussed the monetary aspects of TREX and whether they outweigh the environmental friendliness of the company. Melissa summed it up perfectly when she said, "TREX is really expensive, it is $2.20 a foot! It is better for the environment, but it is more expensive than other decking." Despite this, all students decided that the price was definitely worth the company's contribution to the environment, especially since no physical byproducts were produced.



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After a nice lunch at Jim Barnett Park (and some free-time on the playground), the students of the Geosphere headed back to Signal Knob where they tested their engineering ingenuity. They got into groups and were challenged to create a solar panel oven using recycled materials, including construction paper, leftover cereal boxes, aluminum foil, and saran wrap. To test the efficacy of their ovens, students took their projects outside and roasted their own s'mores on the blacktop using their design! Not only were all oven designs unique, but all worked great! The "environmental" s'mores couldn't have been more delicious.


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