So this year I did it. I jumped right in and had an Earth Day celebration at our school. It started the week before when someone asked me about what plans I had for Earth Day and all I could respond with was a surprised shrug. This did get me thinking though, about how we promote science understanding on campus. Our students get used to seeing science done in textbooks and labs, but it's rare to have them break the mold and get outside of that traditional learning experience. So I decided to make our brand new Chem Club take charge and we would start small and then build it into annual tradition on campus.
Our school is pre-K through 12th grade, so this presents many great opportunities to have the older students work with the younger students. For this year we decided that we would have the high school students in Chem Club put out a table with activities for the elementary students during their recess. In my mind the reason to have an event on Earth Day is to get kids excited about taking care of their Earth and to promote strong science.
For the event, the high school students helped the elementary students plant seeds for vegetable and flower starts. As we planted we talked to the kids about how to take care of the plants and why it's important to have clean water. I learned a few things for this event though:
- First: Every elementary school child wants to see what is going on, at one time. This plant activity might have been better if we had taken it to each classroom, instead of trying to plant 200 seeds at one time.
- Second: Have a handout with the science terms you want the kids to learn. Telling them in a big rush was just too fast.
- Third: Have several activities set up. Since this was put together at the last minute, we only had the seed planting. Next year I would love to add more activities based on wind and solar power. Pitsco has a wind turbine and solar powered cars that the kids could interact with that is hands on and fun.
- Fourth: Have more science paraphernalia around. The elementary students were impressed by our lab coats and gloves. Next year having goggles and coats that they can borrow will increase the excitement and make everything more safe.
Overall it was a great event and a good start to hosting an Earth Day celebration. I am excited about the things we can try next year. Even though we got a late start on this year's event, it was still a good learning experience for all ages.