Pre-K does a 3 week unit on composting, recycling, and gardening. As a culmination of the unit they create a composting worm bin.
Every Kindergartener at VES has learned about being green. Each year Kindergarten reads a book called Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel. After learning about recycling each student is handed a picture. The picture is either a recyclable material or a non-recyclable material. The students place it in the category that they feell it belongs in. Students are asked to justify why they feel their item belongs in that category. As a follow up they do a worksheet where they wrote down a pledge to make a greener earth. (written by Kevin) In addition, Kindergarten also completed a 6 week composting project
Living and Nonliving Things
This spring the students are learning about living and non-living things. They are very excited to learn about how plants grow, germinating seeds, charting the plants growth, planting the germinated seeds planting flowers, and giving the plants as Mother's Day gifts. They will listen to the story My Garden, by Kevin Henkes, write sentences and draw pictures about their garden.
First grade students at Veterans Elementary School learned about the importance of the three r's; Reducing, Reusing and Recycling.
The recycling instruction centered around consumables that the students use in their daily lives. Students brainstormed a list of items that are commonly found in school lunches. Next they identified items that they could recycle in the cafeteria. Also, they were taught how to recycle in the cafeteria and in the classroom.
Students learned that it can be fun to take something old and make it something new when they made their own paper from newspaper. They also reuse scrap paper that no one uses anymore.(written by Melody)
WOW! Second graders have combined both S.T.E.M. and green school together!! They have learned about preventing erosion, different types of soil, and plants and vegetation. Then, they applied their knowledge into a S.T.E.M. unit. To go above and beyond, they teamed up with the school’s P.T.A. and some master gardeners to replant the school’s butterfly garden. (written by Emmeline)
Look at that! The 3rd grade designed and built outstanding bird houses out of recyclable materials. The bird houses are planted on our sports field. They monitored the birds activity by checking on them several times a week (written by Chandrika)
Wow check out the 4th grade. For the past three years they've made toys like a beautiful doll houses and pirate ships out of recycled materials. They collected recyclable materials from home and school while they used the Engineering Design Process to plan design and build working toys. Did you know that about 70% of the toys were made out of recycled toilet paper rolls. (written by Pratulya)
Cherish the Chesapeake These 4th grade students became experts on the physical, biological, economical, and historical aspects of the Bay. They explored some of the current problems facing the Bay and reviewed possible solutions. The goal was for students to develop a firm understanding of the problems and issues facing the Bay and to become actively involved in a minimum of one service project that will help to restore and protect the Bay. In 2013 the Cherish the Chesapeake group stenciled all of the storm drains in the school area to reduce dumping waste into the drains. We also built models and wrote reports on problems in the bay to show how easy it was to help the bay. -D.W.
In the 2012-2013 school year a class of 5th grade students wrote letters to government officials asking for more trees to be planted around schools to help sustain the environment. In both the 2012-2013 school year and the 2013-2014 school year, students read and/or listened to the book Saving Salila’s Turtle. The book is about a girl who deals with water pollution problems around her community. As a continuation of the book, students will be experimenting (in technology class) how to create a productive filter in a STEM format. As another STEM activity, during monthly STEM days, the 5th grade participated in an egg drop challenge. The challenge was to create a container out of 100% recycled materials in which an egg could survive a 5-20 foot drop. This sparked many ideas of how to renew old materials and turn them into useful items. Students will also participate (in science class) in a unit on life in the Chesapeake Bay. (written by Adam)
This year, 5th grade students gave their schoolyard a report card. Based off of multiple aspects, students rated their schoolyard. Some of the characteristics taken into account were how permeable the schoolyard surfaces are, where rainwater travels to, the amount of erosion, the use of bicycle racks, the types and amounts of vegetation around the school, what type of fertilizer is used on the lawn, how many plants provide shelter for animals, and other aspects. After that information is gathered, students fill out a “report card” for the schoolyard and write about the quality of the yard.
Talk about student-led! A group of 5th graders convinced the GT teachers to start a Save the Sharks seminar. Students are researching ways to help protect sharks, why they are threatened, and the issues surrounding shark fin soup. They are working towards creating a display board for the annual Enrichment Fair.
STEM Egg Drop. The students had to use recycled materials to build an object that could be used to carry an egg and be durable enough to survive a 5ft drop.
The 5th graders were introduced to a real life problem. People relying on the Ganges river, but the water is contaminated and unsafe. The students were then introduced to a solution to this problem, a filter. As a S.T.E.M. project the 5th graders were challenged with the task to create a filter with the following materials: cotton balls, sand, gravel, cheesecloth, strainer, paper filters. Each team of students would create their own unique filters in a bottle and pour "polluted" water through. They aim to have a quick filter that gets particles and color out. The activity helps create awareness of the problem, and an actual real life solution. -Emmeline
The art teachers at VES are always trying to think of creative ways to find new art supplies and make their budget stretch. They do this in a variety of ways. For example, they collect baby food jars, plastic containers, and glass jars from the community to store their materials. They also collect the cardboard boxes from the soda delivery person. They cut the board into pieces and then use these pieces as a stage to put their 3-D art projcts on. And lastly, they reuse everyday materials to create art!
School-Wide Environmental Behavior Changes
In 2014 VES installed motion-sensitive lights throughout the entire building.
All K through 5 teachers attended science modules in the beginning of the year. These modules focused on NGSS practices but highlighted the idea of having students go outside to investigate using real life environmental connections to integrate engineering into sensible solutions.
In order to attend the Plant a Tree field study, one teacher from the fifth grade was asked to attend the information session after school. Teachers met at Talbott Springs Elementary School and discussed the objective of the trip along with important information that the teachers needed before participating. Attached are the meeting notes and the power point presentation to show some of the topics that were discussed. On the left is a picture of Ned Tillman's book that was given to each member that attended the meeting.
Three times a week during the morning announcements green team members give both the students and staff a green tip of the day.
The music department is always excited to create lessons that integrate curriculum and enrich the learning experience for the students. As part of the Green School effort, the vocal music classes have been singing and performing songs about Earth Day and the environment. These lessons have included singing, instrument performance and arts integration. We were pleased to see how much knowledge about the environment that the children came with. Their favorite song has been "What Do You Do With A Water Waster?" According to their teachers, they even break out into song during their classroom environmental studies. The strings program is joining in this integrated effort as the students are learning to play the "Water Waster" song during their lessons.
VES celebrates our green initiatives with hallway boards and signs. Below are some examples of student-made signs celebrating the Earth and how we can protect it.
Each year parents are invited to an evening activity called the Enrichment Fair. Students show off their projects with display boards, games and videos. Over the past 4 years, many green projects have been displayed for the school community to see - Cherish the Chesapeake, Green Team, Glue Crew, Rube Goldberg, games made of reused materials and cereal box "biographies" are some examples. The students love to celebrate their hard work and gain hands-on experience being creative using recycled materials.
Each year VES celebrated Earth Day by creating school-wide awareness of how all of us can help protect the environment. In 2010 and 2011, all teachers received Earth Day fact sheets describing different actions students could take to reduce their impact on the environment. An Earth Day Pledge was put into the newsletter and emailed to all teachers encouraging students to make a promise of one thing they could do to help the Earth. The pledge form challenged students to Reduce the amount of things and energy we use, Reuse materials, and Recycle what is left.The pledge form also said "I can help the Earth by recycling, conserving energy, saving water and protecting natural resources. I will..." and then students added their own pledge. In all 4 years from 2010 until now, VES celebrated Earth Day by participating in the 20 Minute Cleanup, a litter pickup project. In all years, VES further celebrated Earth Day with a prize drawing. Participants were entered into a prize drawing and the winner was chosen in front of the whole school on the video announcements. Winners and congratulations to all participants were published in an article in the school newsletter.
The PTA, VES administrators, teachers and students celebrate our green principals by working together to give back to the community. From 2011 through 2013, the school held a coin drive to benefit Blue Planet Run - a charity that provides clean water technology to poor countries. The coin drive created a big buzz with it's fun twist. Students "voted" with their coins for administrators and teachers to do funny stunts, one year's winner being the Principal wearing a tutu. Mrs. Floyd's third grade class decorated shoe boxes that were put in each classroom. Students were encouraged to donate any small change that they had. In the current school year, the school-wide project is to donate gently used books to create a library in Malawi.