New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is entering its 5th year running the We Future Cycle recycling program and students are getting trained on how to sort their lunch waste into compost, recyclables and trash.
Like every year, We Future Cycle presenters swoop upon the school and go from classroom to classroom to playfully introduce the students to the concept of recycling and to the problems attached to garbage. All students start out considering anything empty as garbage. Upon asking if they thought I brought them recycling, they clearly were reconsidering their position and some raised their hands. And they were quite astonished to learn that I just brought them packaging material, and they decided if that became garbage or recycling. It was fascinating to watch how something shifted inside them. THEY decided on something as important as putting something in recycling.
The We Future Cycle Recycling program teaches children to separate recyclable material from food and non recyclable material, and this reduces garbage by a whopping 97%. Trinity is consistently at below 6 lbs of trash from the entire lunch of nearly 1000 students.
Students learned that packaging is similar to Lego. If is put into the correct bin, it can be taken apart again and the same material blocks can be used to build something new. Students totally get that concept!
Learning that left over food can be recycled too was a bit of a stretch for them, but when I showed them what compost looked like and let them smell it, they all agreed that it is much better to make good soil than burn our banana peel.
Celebrating Earthday is no small matter in New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School. Assistant Principal Michael Hildebrand scheduled presenters from We Future Cycle for all Kindergarten through 3rd grades and the school was positively vibrating with good energy.
In class by class presentations, second graders learned concepts of what materials can bio-degrade and what that means in terms of this material entering our environment. They learned about decomposition, seed germination and a touch of the chemical processes behind that.
Students had the opportunity to be hands-on scientists and explored how different materials interacted with water. quite messy in fact, but also eye opening to learn and experience that plastics are not changed by water, other than broken into smaller plastic pieces over time, until they are small enough to enter the food chain.
Watching a heart wrenching short movie about how wild life is affected by plastic in our environment started a spirited discussion on what each and every one of them can do to solve this problem. Students decided to become vocal to educate other about the problem. Check out these fabulous posters as the result. These are mini-environmentalists on their way to become agents of change. Way to go!
Being in an elementary level lunchroom is not for the faint hearted. The noise level is deafening. But fearlessly, We Future Cycle set up the Lunchroom Environmental Scavenger Hunt in New Rochelle Trinity’s lunchroom.
As 3rd graders came in, they bee-lined to the colorful posters, all depicting shocking data about environmental problems surrounding them. They open mouthed stared at pictures of turtles eating a floating plastic bag while trying to figure out what a trillion plastic bags per year in the world actually means. And they are not alone, it is a staggering number that nobody can really wrap their head around. Students that wanted to participate in the game were sent to eat first and then come and get a detective sheet. In order to answer the questions, students had to study the poster boards carefully and they were all game to play.
And as they worked (quietly, there was a marked noise level difference), they learned and shared with their friend the surprise about some of these staggering facts. The US alone uses 500 Million straws every single day!
Rye Town just joined “The Last Straw” Campaign. Everybody can make a difference by ditching straws, replacing single serve plastic bags and being good about recycling all appropriate materials.
They also learned about the dismal recycling rate of single serve plastic bottles. These kids are old hands in recycling and they asked me why not everybody was just recycling…. Good question, indeed.
Under the leadership of Assistant Principal Michael Hildebrand, New Rochelle Trinity students are able to participate in school wide Earth Day activities and are loving it.
A team of We Future Cycle presenters descended upon the school and had great fun introducing kindergarten students and first graders to worms and worm composting.
Students were somewhat hesitant when they saw the worms, some leaned far back into their chairs, some even voiced how nervous they were. But learning about how worms master this world, and how important their jobs are, won them over and when the time came to get down and dirty with a handful of worms on a wet paper towel, they were all game. Armed with the new minted knowledge of how worms moved, they watched with the magnifying glass (it was not really needed, but they all LOVED having one in their hand) At the end of the lesson, each worm had a name, and all expressed their love, one student asked if she could kiss him…. 🙂
The key to environmental literacy is sustained education around different aspects. Trinity elementary students are old hands at sorting in the lunchroom, being the longest school on board of the We Future Cycle recycling program. Flawlessly they separate commingled from food waste and from remaining trash. And with the never wavering support of the Trinity administrations, students are treated regularly to environmental education and they are loving it!. Today’s classes were suppose to be 45 min, but often, I did not get out of there until 1:15 min because students had so many great questions. This is how future environmental leaders are made.
New Rochelle Trinity Elementary School is a shining example on how teaching students young creates life long behavior changes. Two years ago, We Future Cycle introduced the Waste Free Snack program to the school. All students went through class by class presentations about how to reduce packaging waste from snack in the classrooms in addition to making healthier snack choices.
Part of the program is that the healthy snack waste like the banana peel or the apple core will NOT go in the trash, but will be brought by the students down to the lunchroom to be combined with the lunch compost.
On my recent visits to Trinity I was reminded again that learning young is the basis for life long learning.
Check out this student very carefully transporting and combining her classrooms healthy snack waste with the compost from the lunchroom.
It 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.
That is something that Saboor Tahir learned in a very pleasant way. Today, Trinity’s Assistant Principal presented the gleaming 5th grader with his certificate and an envelope holding a nice cash prize, all in front of his applauding classmates.
This 5th grade class was part of the recent “The Science of Composting” workshop given by We Future Cycle. Students touched, felt and smelt compost and learned about what goes on inside the compost pile. Connecting global warming, healthy soils and a solution to a waste management problem was the objective of this workshop and students were tasked to write about what they learned.
Saboor Tahir rose up to the task and handed in an essay that very clearly reflected his understanding of the topic and that he did additional research to connect these important dots.