Since 1970, Earth Day has grown into a worldwide celebration of the pale blue dot we call home. In the classroom, this is a perfect opportunity to add some environmental science lessons into your spring calendar. Teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to fund supplies for school gardens, recycling programs, copies of The Lorax, butterfly habitats, and countless more materials to show students the importance of taking care of our only planet. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next project about the environment, whether it’s for Earth Day or all year round.
Start a Recycling Program
For many schools across the country, recycling still isn’t a priority. But a single teacher can change that, with some dedication and a few plastic bins. Like Mrs. McKenna, who set out to “Make Every Day Earth Day” with blue bins and a set of books to teach her kids about the importance of recycling.
If your school already has a recycling program, you can take it to the next level, like Ms. Robertson. She created a project to collect scraps of paper throughout the year, and taught her students how recycling works with a hands-on project to make new paper out of those scraps.
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Dig In With a School Garden
What better way to foster appreciation for the Earth than letting students get their hands dirty? Teachers like Ms. Rossel have created class gardens, using raised beds to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs that they later cooked and ate. Projects like this can give students experience in a wide range of hands-on science skills. Plant biology? Check. Agriculture? Check. Health and nutrition? Check.
And if an outdoor garden isn’t an option, teachers have come up with creative ways to bring the same experience indoors. Mrs. Torossian created a project for an indoor hydroponic gardening kit, and used it to grow salad vegetables. Later, her students ran a taste test to figure out how their home-grown food differed from what they could find at the local store. Here’s her students explaining how the project worked:
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Read About the Earth
There are plenty of options for teaching your students about the Earth through books, but reading The Lorax is a great place to start. Mrs. Cobb used it to encourage “critical thinking about our environment” for her English language learners, and Ms. Schlacter used it to teacher her students about “biodiversity, renewable resources, resource depletion, and nonrenewable resources.”
For older students, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is a popular option. Ms. Morris-Curtis had her students read the classic environmental text alongside a biography of Rachel Carson so her students can “understand the interconnectedness and interdependency of the natural environment to which we all belong.” Isn’t that what Earth Day is all about?
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Looking for even more inspiration for your next environmental science project? Here are even more great ideas from DonorsChoose.org teachers.