The Foundation created a 20 week Environmental Awareness training program by establishing an Earth Club for 4th and 5th grade students to promote green initiatives, and to build awareness and responsibility for our planet in inner city youth. There are 20 students in the Earth Club and they meet for an hour after school twice a week. We are going into our 8th week of the Earth Club. Through the program, students learn valuable information about helping the planet and engage in activities, projects, and games to instill the importance of taking care of the Earth and their Community. During the first 2 weeks of the club, students created rules, elected officers (President, Vice-President, Sargent At Arms, and Treasurer). During the next 8 weeks, students learn a specific lesson each week in the following areas: recycling, reducing, reuse, composting, gardening/tree planting, energy conservation, water reduction, emission reduction and trash reduction/landfills. After the major concepts are covered, with guidance and support students will be given 8 weeks to create and implement a sustainable project to make an impact in any area they choose to help the environment. Throughout the program students will have access to computers, software, and computer based training programs to add fun to the learning process while they increase their typing and computer skills. Students are also taken on fieldtrips to community parks & gardens for more hands on experience and for the opportunity to engage in a positive relationship building experience with their peers.
For example, we covered the area of trash reduction during week 3. After learning about the problem and completing activities to reinforce what they learned 10 Earth Club students chose to engage in a group project to immediately reduce trash on campus through promoting a Trash Free Tuesdays initiative. Before implementing the project, the student created a journal to track items left on the yard after nutrition, lunch, and after school. Data was taken for two weeks (two separate Tuesdays), pictures were taken and after computing the amount and types of trash left on campus students created a goal to try to reduce Trash left on campus on Tuesdays by at least 50% percent over an eight week period. Students created posters to hang up around the yard to advertise Trash Free Tuesdays and also made announcements on the school PA. The Earth Club Students encourage the students who are not in the club to pick up at least 5 pieces of trash during recess, lunch, and after school. They also take pictures of the students picking up trash. After school, students from both the general population and the Earth Club come to our room to show the items of trash they pick up and each student writes about their experience picking up trash and states how much trash they picked up for that day. After each period (recess, lunch, after school), Earth Club students checked the yard and documented the data on how many items of trash were found left on the yard. Students are currently working on their 3rd week of the 8 week Trash Free Tuesdays initiative.
After an eight week period, students will compare the initial data and pictures with the new data and pictures to see if they were able to reduce trash on the school and reach their goal through our Trash Free Tuesdays initiative. Students who participate in the trash reduction project will be awarded certificates of appreciate and small prizes. Students that picked up the most trash will be rewarded with certificates for a free personal pizza. We have also created a student Book Club for K-3rd graders that targets environmental awareness and responsibility through reading literacy & comprehension, speech and social & interpersonal skills. There are 32 students in the club and they also engage in green projects on a smaller scale and help the older students in the Earth Club with sustaining their projects. Students in the Book Club are also participating in the Trash Free Tuesdays initiative.