by Kim Moldofsky, The Maker Mom
The other day I watched a teacher play with bright, colorful loops of fabric that he had stapled to a circular board. Curious, I approached him to learn more about his unusual project. Like a seasoned STEAM (STEM+Arts) professional, he replied without missing a beat, “I’m making a Truffula tree.”
Truffula trees are central to the famous Dr. Seuss fable, The Lorax. The foliage of the unique trees was used to manufacture a product, the Thneed. Thneed proved so popular that all of the trees were cut down to make them. Along with the decimating the trees, the production process polluted the water and air so that of the animals that relied on the trees for food or housing had to relocate. It’s a bummer of a story, but it ends on a bright note with a caring individual who receives the last remaining Truffula seed.
That’s how things are when it comes to teaching students about the environment and issues like climate change. There’s a lot of discouraging news. But we need to show students that they can make a difference.
When it comes teaching about the environment and conservation, be sure to check out these resources from the National Education Association. And if you want to provide students with real-time climate information NASA has an iOS app for that: Earth Now. Earth Now shares information that NASA tracks and provides data visualizations of key climate health indicators, like air temperature, ozone, carbon dioxide levels and more.
Make a Positive Difference
The young scientists in your class may want to ponder solutions for some of our planet’s pressing environmental concerns to get a jump start on next year’s competition.
Or maybe like the child in the Dr. Seuss story, your students are motivated to take action now. Here are a few simple ideas to get them started:
- Cut back on the junk mail their families receive
- Reduce their consumption of meat.
- Start a compost bin (I know teachers who keep vermicomposter bins in their classrooms)
- Turn off the lights when they leave a room (just like their parents tell them)
- Pick one green habit and stick with it.
To that last point, every step toward positive change is a move in the right direction. Each of us has the power to make a difference in our daily lives. For example, I made a personal pledge to pick up stray rubber bands when I see them on the ground. Birds and small mammals mistake these unnatural products for worms, which can lead to digestive problems or even death. My goal may sound too small to be significant, but I rescue an average of two rubber bands a week while walking my dog. This adds up to more than 100 rescues a year. Assuming my dog lives another ten years, that will translate into a collection of more than 1,000 rubber bands.
Imagine what a whole classroom of children can accomplish if they put their minds to it. Get started today!