When Elizabeth Peterson’s fifth-grade class wanted to explore ways to green their school, they first focused on their own efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle, and grow. During a brainstorm session they decided to create a survey to help them research their own habits. Through discussions with the Portland-area Waste Reduction Group, students were able to see how their habits and the amount of waste generated in their own classroom and school could be immediately reduced.
Expanding the use of recycling throughout the school and educating younger students about steps to “go green” presented more challenges and also gave the students opportunities to develop and practice classroom skills. They used math knowledge to understand the data they collected and writing skills to persuade administration and custodial staff to support their ideas about changes to make the school more “green.”
Through the many challenges students had in trying to establish a recycling program at school, they understand the value of small steps, problem-solving and teamwork. They achieved several notable accomplishments:
-The creation of milk carton recycling program in a school with no central cafeteria
-Fifth-graders role modeling good habits for younger grades
-Collaboration on a waste reduction initiative with a neighboring high school and middle school
In addition, students wrote in their journals, created a PowerPoint presentation, and shared their project at the Student Summit on Service-Learning at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.