Delaware’s natural beauty is essential to our quality of life and economic vitality. These five initiatives are a great example of work underway to preserve precious green space around the Brandywine, ensure world-class outdoor amenities everyone can enjoy and even deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to mitigate traffic.
#1 Kennett Pike’s Memorial Cherry Trees
It’s been 100 years since the cherry trees were first planted along the Kennett Pike at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church. The Garden Club of Wilmington has gotten together with the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH) to revitalize this important section of the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway by installing new cherry trees along Kennett Pike.
They are calling the project, “Pink Pearls: Centennial Restoration of Kennett Pike’s Memorial Cherry Trees.”
Founded in 1918 at the end of World War I, The Garden Club of Wilmington (GCW) embarked on its first Community Project planting a row of weeping Japanese cherry trees at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church to honor local heroes who died in the war.
The trees and their beautiful pink blossoms in the spring were a special landmark for decades. However, over the years, the trees declined and were replaced with a variety of tree species. Some of the newer varieties were removed to make way for the 12 new Japanese cherry trees, which were plated about a month ago.
The Kennett Pike Association and Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church also partnered in the replanting project.
Kennett Pike was built as a toll road between 1811 and 1813 and was purchased in 1919 by P. S. du Pont, who then widened, paved, and sold it to the State of Delaware for $1.
As a gift to his wife, Alice, Mr. du Pont had a 10-mile string of oak, sycamore, and elm trees, which she lovingly referred to her “pearls,” planted along the newly built Kennett Pike. In fact, Mr. du Pont’s gift may well have inspired the first planting of the Japanese cherry trees by the GCW.
“There were several other sites they were considering. So we are absolutely delighted that they have chosen us,” said John Danzeisen president of the Kennett Pike Association. “They just look so beautiful along that stretch of Kennett Pike.”
#2 Future Trails of Northern Delaware
A ten-year “corridor management plan” for the Brandywine Valley National Scenic Byway has been completed with the intent of more effectively managing travel demands on the byway and preserving historic “Chateau Country” properties.
A coalition of allied groups is focusing on key northern Delaware trails: Brandywine Heritage Trail, Commons Boulevard Pathway, Augustine Cut Off Trail, Claymont to Fox Point State Park Trail, Markell to Newport Trail, and the remaining sections of the East Coast Greenway needing improvement.
To learn more about the Future Trails of Northern Delaware and the Coalition, visit: www.delawaregreenways.org.
#3 DelDOT Scores $5 million for AI traffic management system
With a surge in population and resulting vehicle traffic, infrastructure planners are looking to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to manage future growth.
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), has been awarded a federal grant of $5 million for the Artificial Intelligence Enhanced Integrated Transportation Management System (AIITMS) Deployment Program from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Delaware has seen an increase in population of 21 percent between 2000 and 2015, and a resulting 16 percent increase in vehicle traffic during the same timeframe,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan. “With our continued focus on innovation, implementing and utilizing advancements in technology will enhance our existing transportation system performance.”
#4 Students’ Soar with Solar Cars
Thirty-five teams of middle school students from across the state recently came together for the 2019 Junior Solar Sprint solar-powered model car competition.
DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal, & Energy teamed up with the Delaware Technology Student Association to host the students and educators representing 21 schools gathered for the event in Harrington, a Delaware tradition for more than 25 years.
Each year, students work with classmates and teacher advisors over several months to build model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells, better known as solar panels. The competition had racers competing for top speed in time trials, as well as for awards in engineering design and creative design.
The Junior Solar Sprint competition is part of a national program from the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program. It encourages students to engage in problem-solving, teamwork, and creative scientific thinking to take on environmental challenges. This year’s competition took place as one event during the Delaware Technology Student Association 2019 State Conference, which drew several hundred students to compete in various science and technology challenges.
Participating schools in this year’s Junior Solar Sprint were: Alfred G. Waters Middle School, Middletown; Bayard Middle School, Wilmington; Beacon Middle School, Lewes; Brandywine Springs School, Wilmington; Cab Calloway, Wilmington; Central Middle School, Dover; Conrad School of Science, Wilmington; Fred Fifer Middle School, Dover; Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Newark; H.B. Dupont Middle School, Hockessin; Holy Cross School, Dover; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Wilmington; Las Americas ASPIRA Academy, Newark; Milford Central Academy, Milford; Providence Creek Middle School, Clayton; P.S. DuPont Middle School, Wilmington; Postlethwait Middle School, Camden; Springer Middle School, Wilmington; The Jefferson School, Georgetown; The Tatnall School, Greenville; Wilmington Friends School, Wilmington.
All-around winners for combined speed, design, and presentation:
- 1st place: Beacon Middle School, Car #5
- 2nd place: Postlethwait Middle School, Car #32
- 3rd place: Milford Central Academy, Car #27
Top five teams in time-trial races:
- 1st place: Bayard Middle School, Car #3
- 2nd place: Springer Middle School, Car #33
- 3rd place: Alfred G. Waters Middle School, Car #1
- 4th place: Postlethwait Middle School, Car #32
- 5th place: P.S. DuPont Middle School, Car #31
Top five teams in creative design:
- 1st place (tie): Central Middle School, Car #11 & Holy Cross, Car #22
- 2nd place (tie): Conrad Schools of Science, Car #12 & The Jefferson School, Car #35
- 3rd place: Holy Cross, Car #21
#5 Wilmington Charter Wins 2019 Delaware Envirothon
Charter School of Wilmington Team A is the winner of the 2019 Delaware Envirothon competition held on April 15th. This year’s win marks the school’s 20th victory in the event’s 24-year history, including an unbroken winning streak since 2002.
Charter School of Wilmington Team C finished second, and Charter School of Wilmington Team B placed third in the Envirothon competition.
The 17 competing Envirothon teams from eight high schools and one 4-H club statewide – Calvary Christian Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Military Academy, Dover High School, Middletown High School, Newark Charter School, Polytech High School, Sussex Tech High School and Peach Blossom 4-H Club – worked hard all school year to prepare for the event.
Each team answered questions, reviewed specimens and took measurements in topics dealing with aquatic ecology, soils/land-use, wildlife, forestry, air quality and the current environmental issue of “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and Technology to Feed the World.”
Teams also had to give a seven-to-10-minute oral presentation of a scenario based on the current environmental issue. After more than three hours of testing, Charter School of Wilmington Team A was crowned the 2019 state champion. They will now represent Delaware at the National Conservation Foundation International Envirothon held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina in late July.
Each member of the winning team earned a $500 scholarship from the Delaware Envirothon and other prizes. The winning team will also receive an award plaque for their school. The second through seventh place teams received more than $2,400 in special team awards and cash prizes. Special cash awards for the top three teams in Air Quality, Forestry, and Soils were provided by DNREC Division of Air Quality, the Delaware Forestry Association, and the Pocomoke Chapter – Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Prizes in the form of gift cards and ribbons were awarded to the top seven teams. The official results are as follows:
- 1st place: Charter School of Wilmington Team A
- 2nd place: Charter School of Wilmington Team C
- 3rd place: Charter School of Wilmington Team B
- 4th place: Peach Blossom 4-H Club
- 5th place: Middletown High School
- 6th place: Delaware Military Academy
- 7th place: Newark Charter School
Since its inception, the Delaware Envirothon has awarded $60,000 in scholarships to 120 students. It is hosted by the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts, which is a voluntary, non-profit association that coordinates conservation efforts statewide to focus on natural resource issues identified by Delaware’s three local districts.