Hayden Lockard and Steven Walker got great reviews by MSAD 44 Superintendent Mark Kenney on their Think Tank Telstar Freshman Academy Project. Rose Lincoln

WOODSTOCK — At a Feb. 26 MSAD 44 School Board meeting Superintendent of Schools Mark Kenney said he had attended Telstar Freshmen Academy’s annual “Think Tank” presentations.

Said Kenney, “We had two kiddos that you would not normally pick out of a crowd to be presenters. [But] if they went to Shark Tank and took their presentation there  … they could get it manufactured. It was remarkable. They thought outside the box, They did their research. They knew the science behind it. It was really creative and genius,” said Kenney.

The two students are Hayden Lockard, 14, and Steven Walker, 16, both of Bethel, who presented, “Climate Action in Qatar.”

After doing research they discovered a higher level of pollution in Qatar where, “they are not only producing [fossil fuels], but in excess,” said Lockard.

The pair came up with the innovative idea to sew the mineral Olivine (called Peridot, when of gem-quality) into pockets of the hijab fabric worn by Muslim women in Qatar. “It would draw in C02,” said Lockard.

Olivine, found naturally on beaches in Hawaii and Norway, can absorb it’s weight in C02. Sewn inside a hijab, it could be removed and replaced once it has absorbed all of it’s potential, Lockard and Walker said.


Their initial idea was to use algae, “but we quickly realized that wouldn’t be viable,” said Lockard. Olivine, they learned, is inexpensive at $30 a ton.

Every year groups of ninth graders at Telstar Freshmen Academy choose a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to research. In front of a panel of community members, most who they don’t know, they present their findings.

The students’ chose climate change, focusing specifically on greenhouse gasses. “The environment is very close to my heart. It has always been something that is ignored or overlooked and I thought it would be my responsibility to bring it to light,” said Lockard.

They said they were surprised to learn of Qatar’s strong economy and great infrastructure despite their vulnerability in terms of climate change, C02, and pollution. “It produces a lot of it’s energy in excess in fossil fuels,” said Lockard.

Most of the TFA Think Tank groups had four or five students, Lockard and Walker started with three, but lost the third when he moved to a different school district. Despite the disadvantage, they worked hard, “[It was] three months of a lot of crying and a lot of stress.” said Walker.



Their 29 slides contained very thorough speaker notes and an occasional pie chart or graph, adding visualization to the data.

Each group presented before a panel of seven which included school administrators, school board members, current and previous head of the chamber of commerce, business people, fire chiefs, executive directors and board members of local non-profits.

Lockard and Walker said the feedback they received from the panel was the concern that the hijab was only for women. They would have liked to see something designed for Qatar men, too, they said.

Walker followed-up, researching what Qatar Muslim men wear – robes and caps, he said. Lockard said they could make the same fabric pockets and infuse the olivine into those.

Of their 30-minute presentation which included a question and answer session, Lockard said, “I was petrified, I was staring at the back wall the whole time.”

“I was counting the seconds,” said Walker.


This is the 9th year TFA students have done Think Tank projects like this. Some of the other project titles included Food Security in Afghanistan, Drinking Water in Ethiopia, Health Care in Afghanistan, Ocean Warming/Flooding in Russia, Flooding in Bangladesh, Food Security in Chad, Ocean Plastics in Greece, Renewable Energy in Djibouti and Literacy in Mali.

Going forward

Walker said he is into art and would like to be an animator someday, while Lockard said she would like to be a chemical engineer working with explosives or weapons. “Two opposite minds yet here we are,” said Lockard.

They talked about continuing their “Climate Action in Qatar” project, maybe going all the way to Shark Tank. “If someone is interested, I would push that forward,” said Lockard.

The two, who were friends before they began their project, said they would need to work more on their communication, since they had a few missteps just before they presented.

“I would love to continue this, make a physical model, make the hijab, make the olivine,” said Lockard. Walker agreed that he too, would like to go forward.

Asked what they received for grades, Lockard said, “I didn’t check the grade, I was just glad it was over.”

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