New Rochelle Trinity 5th Grader Wins Research Essay Contest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt pays to play! That is something that proud winner Edison Diggs learned in a very rewarding way. He was the winner of the We Future Cycle sponsored Research Essay Contest with the topic “Aluminum Foil: The cost of convenience”

Students learned in a We Future Cycle presentation about the enormous environmental foot print of Aluminum foil and all just so we can wrap our sandwich in it?

Edison Diggs skillfully drew his readers in by asking a simple question:

“Have you ever wondered where that Aluminum foil you use to wrap that lever pizza comes from?” Well, it isn’t made in a lab like you might think, it actually comes from the Earth. Unfortunately, that isn’t good for the Earth in the long term. There are many reasons as to why we shouldn’t use aluminum foil.

Aluminum has to be mind from the Earth, so that means companies have to find somewhere to put the dug up dirt, so they tear down trees to make room for dirt, meaning that the countries that these companies use for mining have torn down some of the crops from the people living there. Also, these companies dig out holes, they remove the top soil, which means that plants will never to grow in that spot again because the companies never clean up what they have done? Why don’t these companies clean up? It makes no sense!

To make aluminum you have to mine for rocks containing Bauxite, but only a small percentage of Bauxite is found in each rock. To find the Bauxite, the rocks go through a series of machines, leaving behind so much toxic rock waste. And what do you think the companies do? They dump it somewhere else! Now for each time these companies mine, they leave at least 2 large patches of land, where plants will never grow again. These companies only care about what goes to their pockets, not their effect on the world.

Because Bauxite has to go through so many machines and has to be transported, we use a lot of energy. Making aluminum uses so much energy that there are power plants made only for aluminum production. Also so much money is used to build these power plants that can be used for many other things like cleaning the mess the companies leave. Using all of this energy in turn produces greenhouse and those gases damage the atmosphere. Why are we still using aluminum foil if it damages our atmosphere and uses so much energy and money? Why should we still use aluminum foil if we know how bad it is for our Earth? The answer is “We shouldn’t” There are so many other Eco friendly solutions to using aluminum foil, like reusable containers. So, think about all of these harmful effects before you wrap that leftover pizza in aluminum foil.

Be good and stop using Aluminum foil!

 

4 other students wrote excellent research papers and received an honorable mentioning. Renee Haywood, Zelda Sill, Guadalupe Zepeda and Elias Rodriguez.

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Locker Clean Out! A Recycling Challenge Mastered by New Rochelle IEYMS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe annual process of locker clean out entailed until today a line of garbage cans in each hallway, and students just taking armful over armful of stuff out of their lockers to dump. A school of 1500 kids would easily generate 7500 lbs of material, all in over 100 plastic bags. A tremendous cost to the school in terms of man power, bags and carting cost.

New Rochelle’s Isaac E. Middle School tackled this challenge with the help of We Future Cycle. The school has adopted the We Future Cycle recycling program last year and has since diverted 97% of its waste into recycling or composting streams. Students are sorting at breakfast, lunch and in their classroom.

So extending that “new normal” behavior into the hallways during locker clean out was no problem at all. All it took was 3 bins, clearly marked, some directions to the students and some supervision, and voila! 98% of the materials from the lockers were sorted into paper recycling or commingled.

Just. Like. That !

100 bags of trash transformed into 9 brimming full paper recycling toters, 2 toters of commingled and maybe a total of 15 lbs of non recyclables.

Way to go Isaac Young students!

New Rochelle Trinity STEAM 5th Graders learning about Aluminum Foil : The Cost Of Convenience

Aluminum foil, wonder of wonder, it wraps sandwiches, and keeps food hot or cold. But what does it actually  take to make aluminum foil?

New Rochelle Trinity 5th grade STEAM students have recently learned all about it, and they all agreed that the cost of convenience for aluminum foil is WAY too high.

Picture1Aluminum does not exist in its free form in nature, instead Alumina silica is found in Bauxite. This ore is mainly found in thin layers in the tropics.

To get it, trees and soil are removed and the bauxite containing soil is mined and crushed. Sodium Hydroxide is added to dissolve the Alumina silica which is then smeltered to remove the last oxygen to become Aluminum.

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Is our convenience worth the environmental destruction that Bauxite mining causes? And the failed clean up by mining companies when the mineral is exhausted?

I think not!

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New Rochelle Middle School Students Dig Healthy Soil, literally!

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We Future Cycle recently taught a workshop about food composting to all 6th graders at the Isaac E. Young Middle School.

Before We Future Cycle set up the recycling program in all of New Rochelle schools, students were taught in the lunchroom to “just throw all their garbage out”. And the result were heaps of bulging and dripping bags of garbage every day. Since the implementation, students are sorting their waste into excess liquid, recycling, and composting streams and from the 273 lbs of daily material, only 6.5 lbs are actual trash, whereas 126.5 lbs are food waste and trays that are sent to a commercial composting site in Ulster County.

Students learned what actually happens to their food waste. They learned about the detrimental effect of rotting food in landfills and how it creates methane, a highly toxic, flammable and explosive gas into our air as well as toxic leachate into our ground water.

Students giggled when walked through the decomposition of a banana through their own system, but understood suddenly how it all works. Understanding that the apple tree can only make an apple by using nutrients and water from the ground, these nutrients go into our body when we eat the apple and any left over should go back to the soil, rather than being treated as trash to create methane in the landfill.

Students learned about the magic of taking two things we consider waste ( leaves and food waste) and by combining them and letting nature do its thing, we get black, nutrient rich soil.

As activity, students touched, smelled and observed different soil samples and made determinations as to how plants might like to live in that soil. In the beginning, some kids leaned far away  from the samples put in front of them, but warmed quickly to smelling and touching them, all to say : “oh, it just smells like dirt”.

Yes, hheaderPhoto-learnealthy soil made from food waste and wood chips/leaves. Nature’s magic

Easy to do, all we have to do is sort out our food waste and mix it with woodchips and leaves and after 60 days we have healthy soil. Easy!

 

New Rochelle Jefferson School Proud Recipient Of Westchester County Earth Day Award

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Principal Nieves and Assistant Principal Bruno are proudly displaying their Westchester County Earth Day Award. They are standing under one of the reasons they were chosen for this award.

The “Jefferson Feeds the Garden” Tree is a beautiful display of paper leaves on a display tree. Each leaf signifies that a child brought a completely waste free snack to school, using reusable containers only and eating healthy. The healthy food waste from snack, like the banana peel or apple core went to the composter right next to the lovely raised bed garden.

Under the guidance of Assistant Principal LeAnn Bruno, Jefferson implemented the We Future Cycle Lunchroom Recycling program and reduced its waste by 97%, students learned about class room waste sorting and building waste went down by 50%. Students learned about waste free snacks and healthy food waste started to be composted. Students also learned about litter and it detrimental effects on our Earth and Wildlife and we celebrated it all with a Green Writing Contest. 15 proud winners were loudly cheered by their class mates as they made their way up to the stage to receive their prizes and certificates.

I am breathless just recounting all the environmental programs that We Future Cycle was able to bring to the school thanks to the unwavering support of both Principal and Assistant Principal.

This award is well deserved. Congratulations!

New Rochelle Webster 1st Graders Are Digging Worms!

Picture3We Future Cycle has been hired by the New Rochelle School District to bring sustainability education to the students. Our favorite activity is to do a Worm composting workshop with elementary students. Recently all Webster 1st graders got to meet their new friends, the Eisenia Fetida worms.

Students learned how important worms are for our environment, they cringed a bit when told how worms eat all kinds of stuff that falls on the ground and they openly gasped when learning just HOW much worms can eat on a daily basis and that the brown stuff they saw were actually worm castings (the correct word for worm poop 🙂

Making connections between muscle movements and its affect on how something can propel itself forward made them laugh, but all of them continued to flex their muscles to try it out.

All students got down and dirty, armed with a magnifying glass to examine the sample of worms they received on a moistened paper towel in front of them. They observed size differences, looked for coloring differences to identify what is the mouth and what is the anus of the worm, checked out the movements and searched for baby worms. Loud cheers followed by droves of kids swarming to the neighboring table when news came that a cocoon was found.

All in all, the basic information that all life matters and that worms have important jobs to do by taking our waste and turning it into something fantastic will stick with these young learners. That is the Webster Way.

Who Are The Best Environmental Advocates? Students!

When we launch the We Future Cycle program at schools, we work with administrators, custodians, aides, and food service to get the mechanics of the program implemented and humming.  However, ultimately the goal is to give program ownership to the students.  They are the ones who must learn to separate their lunch leftovers into the appropriate bins, and they are the ones who bring the recycling message home to their families and extended communities.

Fortunately, this is not hard to do!  Students absolutely love sorting their lunch leftovers…it’s fun!  As well, they thoroughly understand that their actions have a direct benefit on the environment, and they know that what they do makes a difference.

This said, even enthusiastic students need to know that their principals, school lunch aides, and parents support the program to foster sustained compliance, and students also need a refresher from time to time about how the lunchroom sorting works.  Fortunately at the BMP Ridge Street School in the Blind Brook District, a 5th grader took it upon himself to spearhead that refresher!

Click here to watch a clip from the student presentation! https://www.dropbox.com/s/h94yg0f3mttkj5j/RSS%20Recycling%20Pres.m4v?dl=0

Jackson Welde, 5th grade student, noticed that his peers were becoming a bit sloppy in the lunchroom, so he asked his principal if he could create a presentation to show at the monthly school-wide student assembly.  (Click on the image to view a segment of the presentation.) The principal enthusiastically said “Yes!” and within a couple months, this presentation happened.  The K-5 students were attentive listeners, and they learned compelling facts about plastic and paper waste as well as about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  The presentation reminded students that properly sorting their leftovers in the lunchroom has ramifications to the health of their own environment, as well as to the environment around the world.

We Future Cycle encourages students to lead the environmental initiatives in their schools by making presentations such as these, as well as through Green Writing Contests, environmental education, and many other projects.  Giving students ownership of environmental programs promotes the values and responsibility necessary to instill a lifetime of environmental stewardship.