The City of Belfast formed a Climate Committee to help reduce the municipality’s environmental impact. To encourage student interest and involvement, eighth grade teachers invited the Committee and the Belfast Bay Watershed Association to talk with students about Belfast’s work to address climate change. After hearing the presentations, the students wanted to do a service-learning project to help make their community more environmentally friendly.
In math class, the students began doing statistical and data analyses on energy usage in their homes. They also researched ways to reduce their individual and collective environmental footprints. Based on their findings, the students brainstormed ways to reduce fossil fuel use and emissions, including redesigning bus routes, raising funds for solar panels, and creating a walking trail. Next they surveyed peers and community members to find out which of their brainstormed ideas had greatest support. Town residents, they discovered, wanted a new walking trail.
Students then worked with the City’s Climate Committee and the Belfast Bay Watershed Association to design and construct a walking trail nearly two miles long. In both the designing and construction of the trail, the students used data collection and analysis, surveying, and mapping skills. The trail built by the students connects with an existing trail already in use, and the students and city officials hope that this new addition will encourage more people to walk—reducing the amount of driving within the city.