When third-grade students learned that Maine residents have a higher risk of developing skin cancer than people in many other states, they decided to engage in a service-learning project focused on sun safety and skin cancer prevention. The students wrote a funding proposal and received a state agency grant to support their efforts.
To learn more about the problem, the students met with the school nurse and talked to their parents and other adults. They also did extensive research on how UV rays affect the body and learned ways to prevent excessive sun exposure (such as wearing hats and sunglasses). Following their research, the students brainstormed how they might address the problem.
They decided to use their grant money to give every third- and fourth-grader in their school a hat that offered sun protection. The students also created and proposed a sun safety policy for the school that the school board adopted. The students suggested that the school routinely remind parents and students about the need for sun protection. Before every outdoor school, the school newsletter includes recommendations on sun safety.
Wanting to educate the larger community about sun safety, the students formed a school wellness team and worked with the local USDA, area hospitals and several health organizations. With the help of their partners, the students designed informational panel displays and brochures which they presented at local and state events and conferences.