Posted in Education, STEM, Teaching

Teaching Students to Care About Our World

While I do recycle and try to think about the environment and how to better care for it, I don’t go as out of my way to help take care of our world as I would like.  I could reduce my water usage and carbon footprint.  I could think about the products I use and consume and be mindful of the natural resources that went into creating them.  I could choose to purchase products that more effectively utilize Earth’s resources.  I could make use of alternative energy resources.  I could be doing a lot more to take care of our fragile planet.  As the threat of climate change and the horrific consequences that we are being told come with it sooner rather than later, I feel compelled to do more than just recycle water bottles and cardboard.  So, what shall I do?

As a teacher, I have a huge advantage over many Earthlings as it pertains to making a difference on Earth and better caring for our planet.  Rather than just being able to make one tiny difference as one person, I can inspire many people to care and want to do something about the physical issues plaguing our planet.  I am able to help motivate the next generation of problem solvers, creative thinkers, and world leaders, as their teacher.  While this seems like a large burden, I view it as more of a wonderful challenge and task I need to accomplish.  I get to help students see the true state of affairs regarding Earth’s environment so that they will want to find new and unique ways to solve the problems their generation will be facing head on in a few years.

Today in STEM class, the boys spent one final period working on Cardigan’s Ecology Project.  They finalized their class presentations and finished applying their creative solution to a problem facing their assigned forest plot.  A few boys went outside to their plots to bring about positive change.  Some of the students picked up debris covering the soil of their plot while another student aerated his plot to allow for water to better penetrate the ground.  Another student buried two plastic water bottles, with holes on the bottom, on his plot; the idea being that water will better be dispersed to other layers of the soil.  Very cool solutions.  The students had to step outside their sometimes self-absorbed bubble to create solutions that will make a big difference to Earth.  While none of the solutions they created may change the entire world or bring about more biodiversity on Earth, they all realized the numerous problems facing our physical world.  Earth is in trouble and if we don’t all band together to do something, we may all be living in a very different place in 20-50 years.

One of the goals for this project is for the students to be able to identify problems in their world and then generate and bring about simple and creative solutions.  I want to empower my students to change the world for the better.  Although not every student will see the importance in taking care of Earth through the completion of this project, I know that at least a few of them are now inspired to do something about human-made problems.  I want my students to learn more than just content and ideas, I want them to learn how to care for our world.  As a teacher, I need to find as many ways as possible to make this happen in the classroom.  This final project  will hopefully send my students into summer vacation wanting to make their habitat and our world a better, safer, and more ecologically friendly place.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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