Understanding our impacts on living things
Lothrop Science and Technology Magnet Center
School Contact Information
Pamela Galus, Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org Lothrop Science and Technology Magnet Center, Omaha Elementary (K-5), Public urban
I am a national board certified teacher and have been in the profession for twenty years. I've written two books and over 100 articles on science.* I Am Available to Mentor Other Green School Honor Roll Members.
The Green School Story
We addressed these 4 Pillars of a Green School
- Teach Stewardship & Student Action
We have taken these steps from the 7 Steps to a Green School
- Establish a green team
- Adopt a policy
- Do a school Environmental audit
- Develop an action plan
- Integrate into the curriculum
- Monitor progress
- Involve, inform, and celebrate with the community
Environmental Challenge or Goal Addressed
We are a magnet school, and our extra value standard for 3rd grade is, "Manipulate conditions to simulate the environmental impact on living things." I told the students that we didn't need to manipulate the environment -- it's already been done! We just need to look at what it has done to life. We got started through the children's love of animals and our many school pets. The kids were very upset when they learned about oil spills and plastic can rings around birds' necks. So we decided we needed to do something. We can't change the world, but we can do our part.
Our Green School Approach
Our Environmental Statement is: "Students and staff of Lothrop Science and Technology Magnet School believe that everyone should be committed to developing environmental responsibility in the school, the community, and in the world by supporting school-wide recycling while promoting the use of green products and energy conservation practices through high quality education."
Recycling: Our students formed green teams which meet during lunch and recess to plan and organize school-wide recycling.
Students implemented a student-run recycling program for: batteries, cans and bottles; milk and juice cartons collected at both lunch and breakfast; and paper recycling in every classroom.
Food & Garden: We planted a fruit orchard and do vermicomposting. The first grant we wrote for the orchard was rejected, but the group liked it well enough to send it on to another group that ultimately funded it.
A community member helped teach the kids how to plant the trees and the kids did all the digging, planting, mulching and staking. Our trees produced a small amount of fruit last year and we are looking forward to more this year. This year we are working on putting in some shade trees.
We have native plants in the area around the building to reduce water use.
Energy: high-efficiency lighting (changing to fluorescent bulbs from incandescent); energy conservation (turning off lights and computers when not in use).
Reducing Toxics: Non-toxic cleaning supplies are used school-wide; use of least toxic chemicals in science, greenhouse, and garden.
Communication: We include our environmental statement in morning announcements, and integrated Environmental Updates into parent newsletters.
Changes and Benefits We've Achieved
We now fill one bin completely with recyclables each week and have reduced the number of trash pickups required. Every classroom recycles paper but we are moving to paperless classrooms. We changed many incandescent bulbs to the more energy efficient bulbs. We do vermacompost and have a compost pile used for weeds from the greenhouse and outdoor classroom. We are working on setting up rainbarrels.
At the building level, we have changed everything we have the power to change.
Each year, 4th grade students run the program first semester and then train the third grade students to take over the program the following year. Third and fourth graders organize and do the tasks but the entire student population assists.
How We Involved Students
Students plan and implement the recycling program. We have trash sculptures, trash toys, Go Green signs -- all kinds of art all over the building. Activities are planned at each grade level to incorporate recycling into classroom activities.
The leadership team came up with the idea of having the whole school and all visitors take this oath:
"I agree not to throw paper, plastic and other recyclables in the trash at school.
I promise to encourage recycling at home.
On the count of three, we are all going to yell ‘RECYCLE’ as loud as we can. One, two, three: RECYCLE!!!"
Staff strives to instill in students the desire to participate individually and collectively in sustainable activities that protect the environment in the school, community and in the world including the utilization of distance learning strategies.
Our Timeline for Change
We started our green program 5 years ago.
Resources We Used
The 3rd grade students view The Lorax and An Inconvenient Truth and discuss. They also calculated the school's carbon footprint, and used the http://www.fueluptoplay60.com/ website.
Students made movies about environmental topics.
Our Inspiration and Motivation
We know that resources are limited and the environment is everyone's responsibility.
In November 2010 we received an award at an assembly, and the kids were so proud.
The district has adopted a green initiative and big changes are coming. The school administration will model environmental awareness by purchasing products that are environmentally friendly. The use of pesticides will be reduced both inside and outside as it is a contributor to environmental degradation. Green office supplies and least toxic cleaning supplies will be purchased when possible.
In the meantime, we have plans to set up rain barrels, and Grades 3 and 4 will continue to move toward paperless classrooms.
Our Advice to Other Schools
Start slow and learn to maintain programs -- quality rather than quantity. Students should do all the planning and organizing since adults already know how to recycle -- the children need to learn.