School Projects for Saving the Earth

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Teachers can help organize ecology projects to help students learn the importance of respecting the earth's natural resources. Stress the idea that every effort to help save the earth matters and participation is important. Incorporate "Save the Earth" school projects into science, math or social studies curricula so students can learn about environmental awareness as they actively support green efforts at school. "Save the Earth" project ideas should focus on conservation, recycling and stewardship.

1 Water Conservation Week

Encourage students to be good stewards of the earth's natural resources by hosting a water conservation week. Older children can examine how much water is wasted at drinking fountains. For example, students can measure the volume of water in a cup left under the tap for 15 seconds. Then students can take a normal size drink from the cup and measure the amount of water left before pouring it down the drain. The amount left over will give the students an idea of how much water is wasted every time the fountain is used for 15 seconds throughout the day. Younger students can observe drinking fountain waste, such as individuals who hold the button long before they actually start drinking or play in the water. Announce that the class will be sponsoring a "no drinking fountain" policy for one week and instruct them to bring empty, clean plastic water bottles or lidded cups to school every day. Provide pitchers of clean tap water and clean cups for those who might forget to bring them. Involve the entire school by asking students to create water conservation posters to hang above every drinking fountain at school. These activities can be adapted for earth day projects.

2 Classroom Energy Audit

Organize an energy audit so students can assess how resources are being wasted at school. Older students can research how much energy is needed to heat or cool the cubic space in a classroom or the gymnasium and how they might conserve energy by turning off the lights when the room isn't in use. Or, they can research the benefits of turning off all classroom and library computers and lowering the room temperature at night. Younger students can brainstorm ways to prevent drafts around windows and reduce paper waste. Have students create end-of-the-day checklists to hang around the school, reminding students and staff of important energy-saving tips. Host a "lights off" hour once a week to raise awareness. Encourage students to follow the same practices at home.

3 Reusability and Thrift Store Donations

Help older students organize a donation drive for a thrift shop. Ask older students to research how reusability -- clothing, furniture, appliances and electronics -- reduces waste. Help them create a flier to give to all students and staff to gain school-wide support for the donation drive. Encourage students to sort through their desks, backpacks and rooms at home for quality items they no longer want or need, such as clothing or toys they've outgrown. Have students take a note home to parents or include the event in the school newsletter so everyone is aware of your "saving the earth" donation project. Instruct your class to sort the items into categories and box them up. Ask the class to write short letters -- addressed to the organization that's receiving the donations -- expressing their support of thrift stores as a valuable way to avoid waste while helping others in need. Consider asking older students to help deliver the donations and letters and report back the organization's appreciative response.

4 Tree Planting Ceremony

With the principal's prior approval, organize a tree-planting project at your school; a small bush may work if the school doesn't have the funds or the space for a tree. Students can research the amount of oxygen a single tree produces and how it contributes to the well-being of humans and the environment. They also can examine how trees planted near classroom windows provide needed shade, especially in warmer climates, aiding in energy conservation. Discuss the tree-planting project with your principal to secure a location that's well-suited to the needs of the school. Instruct students to wear work gloves and casual clothes on planting day. If planting a large tree, ask the outdoor maintenance staff if they'll help dig the hole and secure the tree in advance. Have the entire school vote on a name for the tree. Ask students class to write a poem about the experience to read during a school-wide, informal tree dedication ceremony.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.