A Pew Research Center survey shows fewer young people are keeping up with current events. Instead, many are spending time online - not reading the news, but chatting with their friends on social networking sites. Worldwide, 175 million people spend a combined three billion minutes a day on Facebook. Researchers and journalists are joining forces, and using the power of Facebook to help save journalism and the environment. With a $250,000 grant, they launched a project called Hot Dish. It is a contest encouraging 16 to 25 year olds to engage in important issues like the environment. Environmentally-friendly teacher, Kevin Murphy, signifies the importance behind the project. "Obviously, our kids are the future. They are the ones who are going to grow up and be our political leaders, they're going to be our environmentalists, they're going to be our athletes and the more they know about the environment, the more they care about the environment the more they're going to get the message out to help out the environment," he said. Hot Dish focuses on climate change. By completing planet-saving challenges both on and offline, participants rack up points. The grand prize is an expedition to the Arctic for two. Points are earned when members post and share articles related to climate control. Real-world challenges include switching to energy-saving light bulbs, and using lunchboxes instead of paper bags. Getting involved in community activities like cleaning up litter will get you points too. "It's going to get out to millions of kids. It's going to be the not-dorky thing to do - to go pick up and help clean up trash. It's going to be the cool thing to do,” Murphy said. The project is part of a research study, looking at the impact social media can have on important issues. The contest runs through May 3rd and is open to any one 16-25 years old. You can keep track of your progress on a leader board posted on the Hot Dish profile page. Prizes are given out weekly and include a Macbook computer, gift certificates, and organic t-shirts.
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