Prep eighth graders harnessed their prodigious energy for the past several weeks to study climate change, exploring the causes, analyzing the effects, and innovating ways to mitigate the impact on communities around the world. Students shared their work yesterday in a showcase that brought scores of interested fellow students, teachers, and staff to the A. E. Studzinski Library.
“The boys chose to focus on interesting and different topics this year. We saw a lot of interest in biodiversity, which was exciting,” said Nicole Prince, who organized the showcase with fellow Middle School science teachers Josh Davendonis and Fred Lipton.
“We launched the project by inviting speakers to talk with students about their interest in climate science. It was an attention grabber for students to hear someone like Chris Bauer [director of the Prep’s Center for Justice and Peace] describe the impact of climate change in his hometown in Louisiana. The boys were excited to share their work, and we all appreciate being part of a community where people want to come and see what they’ve done,” said Ms. Prince.
Model hydro-power plants, a small-scale solar-powered home, micro wind turbines, a mock landfill, an energy generating bike, podcasts on nuclear energy, and colorful posters filled virtually every corner of the library. At each station, groups of eighth graders confidently explained their projects to the many teachers, students, and staff who visited to see their work.
“An important part of the project was to rehearse an ‘elevator pitch’ so that students could explain their work to anyone who stopped by to ask about it,” said Ms. Prince.
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE, REAL-WORLD INSIGHTS
Eighth graders Will Monks and Stephon Patrick teamed up on a project about landfills. Will designed a small-scale model to illustrate the different types of trash processed in a typical landfill and why it is important to properly sort and dispose of rubbish before it ever gets to the landfill. Stephon developed a video game to make it fun to learn about proper disposal.
Will liked having the freedom to create something of their own. “When you can make your own choice about what to do, you’re more interested,” he observed. “I was really surprised by how much I learned about landfills and their impact on the environment.”
As he showed a few students how to play the video game, Stephon said he learned a lot about the social justice implications of climate change. “It was interesting to see how much goes into landfills, but it was also interesting to learn about the communities where so many of them are located.”
Students and teachers from the High School were uniformly impressed with the projects and how articulately the eighth grade scientists described their work. “They did a great job. These were very thoughtful presentations,” said Mr. Chris Borgatti, who teaches High School environmental science. “There was a nice balance among the groups in the topics they covered. It was a lot of fun for my AP environmental studies students because we’re covering alternative energy sources right now.”
His students agreed, as expressed in the reactions of these seniors:
“It was interesting to see what they did because it’s very relevant to issues we’re facing today. They highlighted what we can do to help conserve resources.” –Nick Hayman
“They showed a lot of creativity in covering the same topics we’re doing.” –Eamon O’Connor
”I’m impressed with how knowledgeable they are about environmental issues at this young age. –Antael Rose
”Their presentation skills were excellent. Very professional.” –Graham Weist