A few of you might be saying "WHAT? You let your kids pick up trash? How did the parents feel about that?" We sent home a letter in advance to let parents know about our Earth Day project and the meaning behind the project. The day of the project our team went outside before school just to do a quick sweep of the area to make sure there weren't any dangerous items out along the perimeter that we didn't want the kids touching and then we gave them plastic gloves before actually venturing outside for our 'litter hunt'.
I wasn't too sure how a group of seven and eight year olds were going to like picking up littered items around the school but to my surprise they really enjoyed it. It gave them a feeling of responsibility as they were helping our environment, community, and school.
The next school year I decided that this Earth Day project lesson needed more student engagement and I wanted students to have more ownership of the project by leading them to ask more questions, make a plan, and create something...so I turned it into a S.T.E.M. Project. As a teacher, there is nothing more satisfying then taking a good lesson and making it even more meaningful and captivating the next time around!
So this second year we started with the book Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg and examined the effects that littering had in a little boy's dream.
I then explained to the class that their challenge was going to be to create and build a mechanical grabber to help pick up the trash up around our school yard. I put them in groups of two and gave them a list of supplies they could choose to use. I then allowed them time to ask questions, imagine, plan, create, and improve their plan.
If you are interested in trying out this project this month you can check it out in my store: STEM Earth Day Challenge
Thanks for stopping by to learn about the STEM Earth Day Challenge. Happy Earth Day to you and your students on April 22nd!