Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Did Your Students
Recognize Earth Day?

Perhaps you planted a tree today? Or maybe your students took a field trip to the local landfill where they learned firsthand about the waste issue in your community or region? Did you hold an assembly? Work on a school-wide project?

On this Earth Day, I’m thinking about the green efforts of students at two schools with appropriately earthy names: The Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and The Garden School in New York City.

The Park School

When fourth-grade teacher Ted Wells noticed that more than 50 catalogs arrived at his school each day, a project was born. He and his colleagues at the school went about canceling those catalogs. There was so much work involved, that they got their students in on the act too. That led to a 30-day challenge and the ultimate cancellation of more than 4,000 catalogs. Consider the future catalogs un-mailed as a result of those cancellations, and I think you’ll agree that those students made quite an impact.

To learn more about this and other programs at The Park School, check out these resources:
  • Read an article about The Park School’s green projects, No Fuss ”Green” Projects.
  • View a YouTube video about the kids and the project.
  • Read about the catalog project on Ted Wells’ Catalog Canceling Challenge blog.

    The Garden School

    According to Dr. Richard Marotta, the headmaster of the Garden School in Jackson Heights, Queens (New York City), the key is “starting early to make green habits stick.” This year, Marotta tells us that students at the Garden School are participating in four Earth-focused programs:

  • They’ve started a “See Ya” Styrofoam program. They have rid their school of all Styrofoam, and students are now encouraged to bring their lunches in reusable items: lunch boxes instead of paper bags, thermoses instead of paper cups, and reusable containers instead of paper plates.
  • The Pulling the Plug program encourages students to be mindful about not wasting electricity by turning off lights, computers, and TVs when not in use.
  • The school’s third graders are planting flower bulbs and other growing things as part of the Plant -- Rather Than Screw In -- a Bulb program.
  • Finally, the school’s Read Green program encourages students to sign up to receive environmentally friendly news and information, preferably by email.

    What fun or educational “green” things are you doing this Earth Day (or all year long)? Please post a comment below to share ideas you’ve used or heard about so others might benefit from your experience.
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