Fourth graders shared environmental projects recently with family and friends. These research projects were a culmination of what students learned and became passionate about after field experiences, online learning, design thinking, collaboration and shared material in the classroom about the environment and sustainability.
Fourth grade classes started by learning how matter changes and how that connects to sustainability. They learned the difference between physical and chemical changes in different materials. This led to conversations about decomposition and recyclable materials.
The grade also began a long-term composting project. They examined trash from school lunches in third and fourth grade, sorting and collecting and composting different materials.
Many people tend to use the phrase "throw away" when talking about trash. Fourth graders learned there is no such place as "away" and examined the concept that all trash has to go somewhere, and different things happen to different types of waste. They watched this first-hand in the Pinellas County Waste to Energy facility.
With all of this knowledge, students were presented with a design challenge. Working alone or in small groups they chose an environmental problem and attempted to prototype a solution. They were challenged to identify a question, conduct research, build empathy with an audience through an oral presentation, put ideas to action, and create scaled prototypes.
Along with a presentation and prototype, students had a scientific notebook showing research, following their thoughts on the project and demonstrating an understanding of what kind of scientist would work on the same real-world problem.
Each project also made a connection to a field experience
from this year. Fourth grade had the first-hand resources of visiting ECHO
, visiting the local Solid Waste Facility, watching Bag It The Movie
, examining Shorecrest lunch garbage, took part in the Harmless Holders challenge
, and most recently attended the USF Science Festival in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.
Finally, students were prepared to speak in front of a group with all of their materials, demonstrating effective presentation skills such as eye contact, volume and body language.
Presentation day was informative and impressive! Students were easily lecturing on carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, biodegradable materials and much more. They gave audiences pause for thought on their own habits, and encouraged everyone to think differently while reducing, reusing and recycling.