Sustainability Superheroes blog
Using Decision-making and Entrepreneurial Thinking
In this series, we will feature teachers who are infusing sustainability lessons and practices into their classrooms. In our first story, we interviewed Ms. Stacie Watson, an elementary educator from Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida.
Last Summer, Stacie Watson attended a professional development session on how to create a maker space in your classroom. The problems with traditional maker spaces is that they can get expensive, especially if you buy some of the pre-made kits. How can you do this without breaking the bank? Stacie was able to protect her pocketbook and the environment at the same time, and it was amazing. Think about it. You have a lot of resources in your house. What do you normally throw in the garbage or recycling that can be used again?
Once she got it started, the kids took over. They would regularly come in with piles of beautiful junque (that's fancy for junk). If you buy it, it usually gets thrown away. But when when they bring something in, they start thinking about how they can reuse things again and again. Much of what Stacie does is based in grade-level standards in science. In addition, she provides activities that review previous standards.
Designing the maze.
During this activity, Stacie instructed the students to create a maze for Students used a yard stick to make their grids for measuring. The requirement for the mouse to go in the maze was 5X5 inches. Science, they were including the food chain: predators of the mouse and food that the mouse would eat. They used cereal boxes and paper towel rolls to create their mazes.
How can you feature recycled items in your maker space?
1) for student use
2) once they create or invent a good, how can you use it in your classroom?
One of the most important things about creating a sustainable planet is teaching the little ones that will inhabit it for many years to come. Educators have the responsibility, power and knowledge to teach students environmentally friendly habits and practices. Being creative and finding ways to ingrain these lessons are easier than you think. Here are five easy class activities to teach your students how to go green in the classroom.
1. Room Check
At the end of the day, have your students make sure that all faucets and lights are turned off, trash is picked up, technology is shut down, blinds are closed and other necessary items are recycled. You can split up your class into a few groups with each one having a checklist for a specific area. This activity teaches kids the responsibility and importance of saving energy and cleaning up, and it only takes a few minutes. You could even make it a contest to see which group is able to find the most classroom mishaps.
2. Class Garden
Growing a school garden with your students will give them an opportunity to be outdoors and learn about the environment. There’s so much to teach about growing a garden, and you don’t need any fancy tools or supplies to do it. This activity can also help build important skills like responsibility, teamwork and social skills.
3. Recycling Contest
A recycling contest is the perfect way to get your students excited about making a difference for the planet. Let your students compete for first, second and third place in collecting the most recyclable items in a week or month. There are several ways to do this, but you could split your class into teams or compete with other classrooms. Teams can mark their items then place them into the appropriate bins. Count them at the end to find out who wins!
4. Building and Creating with Reusable Materials
Part of being sustainable is using less and reusing more. Ask students to look for reusable items from home and bring them in for a fun and crafty project. This teaches students to be more resourceful and creative because they get a chance to see everyday objects from a different perspective. They can make super hero cuffs from toilet paper rolls, build characters using soda cans, or create their own flowers out of paper scraps.
5. Plant a Tree
This could be another option aside from having a class garden. Getting your students to plant a tree and caring for it together makes for a great Earth Day activity. This teaches kids the importance of taking care of our planet and the responsibility to take action.