As part of their science curriculum on vertebrates, fourth-grade students decided to do a service-learning project. The class began by generating a list of vertebrates in their community and discussing, with their teacher, some of the challenges and problems facing each animal. After reviewing the whole list, the students voted to focus their project on turtles.
In groups, the students used classroom resources and the Internet to learn about turtles and the dangers they face (such as pollution, predators and traffic). The students discovered that cars frequently hit local turtles. Wanting to help alert drivers to the presence of turtles, the students contacted various local organizations—including the Highway Department—about putting up “turtle crossing” signs at the locations where turtles were most frequently hit. The students also wrote letters to community members educating them about the dangers that turtles face.
Sporting t-shirts they had decorated with “Turtle Power!” and “Save the Turtles!,” the students spread the word about their project throughout the school and community. With the support of their teacher and their community partners, the students secured funding and installed three “turtle crossing” signs. The project appeared in the local newspaper and the Town Conservation Officer presented the students with their very own “turtle crossing” sign for their hard work.