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No Fuss "Green" Projects

By Cara Bafile





This year, another teacher at The Park School took the helm of a second green activity founded by Wells. Peter Bown and his third-grade students coordinate the recycling of bottles and cans as a way of getting younger children involved with caring for the planet. At the start of the project, students had many conversations about the problem of recycling at school and how those problems relate to the larger challenges of waste, consumption, and pollution in the world.

Its a dirty job, but everyones got to do it.

"I also let students know that this project would entail a lot of work -- some of it quite dirty and sticky," admitted Bown. "When I finally put the question to them, however, the program was met with genuine enthusiasm. Students feel good about helping the school, and hopefully, they'll all be a little more aware of the small ways in which everyone can help with the huge problem of a deteriorating environment."

The bulk of the recycling project is comprised of weekly collections of bottles and cans from bins located around the school. At the beginning and end of the school year, students also help distribute and collect the bins. They are responsible for advertising the program and for educating other students about how to recycle properly.

Bown's students advertise the program and teach other students to recycle.

"The recycling project is a great way to get younger students interested in the environment and environmental activism," Bown shared. "Students easily understand and connect to the problems that arise from not recycling. Students also can get really motivated and enthusiastic about being able to help."

He added, "I think many kids feel left out of some of these so-called adult issues, even though their lives will be affected by the problems as much or even more than the adults lives will be."

Bown's students advertise the program and teach other students to recycle.
Photos courtesy of Peter Bown.

With each new group of participating students comes an influx of energy and ideas. Bown sees that recycling and concern for the environment are working their way into the curriculum of the lower grades, and ultimately becoming a bigger part of the school culture.

"Like teaching anything else, it pays to have students as involved as possible in the creation of the program," he advised. "Present the problem to the students. Encourage them to ask the hard questions and help look for the answers. It's that type of realistic and meaningful problem-solving that will engage students and get them on board from the get-go."


Michigan Green Schools
Find out how schools in Michigan are becoming more green through the 20 Points of Energy and Environmental Savings Activities.

Act Green
Act Green, from Scholastic, enables students to select from 100 "acts of green" to perform while they earn "Green Points."

50 Ways to Go Green in the Classroom
From taking an eco-friendly field trip to simply using both sides of sheets of paper, this priceless list of green activities has something for every earth-conscious educator.

Green School Project
Here you will find green lesson plans and activities for grades K-12.

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More Simple Acts of "Green"

There are many easy ways "go green" in the classroom. These are just a few.
* Use e-mail rather than paper to communicate with parents whenever possible.
* Make craft projects out of recyclables.
* Hold a litterless, waste-free lunch day.
* Turn off school lights for an hour or even an entire day.
* Have a "green" thumb? Build a Cheap and Easy Worm Bin.
* Open windows when weather allows.
* Have students calculate their "carbon footprints" with the BP Energy Calculator, or their personal or household greenhouse gas emissions with the Household Emissions Calculator.


Article by Cara Bafile
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