In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Framingham Public Schools submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
FRAMINGHAM _ There were big smiles all around as Framingham kindergarteners proudly showed off a long, decorative chain made of reused toilet paper rolls. The craft (photo below) capped off a fun lesson about recycling, designed and taught by students of the Framingham High School (FHS) Environmental Awareness Club.
The kindergarteners learned how recyclable materials can be reused and that, if they work together, they can create something beautiful and save the earth while they’re at it.
Environmental Club members (back row, L-R) Shelby Kiklis, Joao Monteiro, Jess Lopez, Evans Sullivan, Eliza Rubel, Emily Richardson, Zachary Stieglitz, and Ethan Cox with Dunning Elementary School first grade students.
In January and February, Environmental Club students visited kindergarten and first grade classes at the King, Dunning, Barbieri, Brophy, and Potter Road Elementary Schools to teach lessons on recycling, anti-littering, and protecting the planet. Club members and Environmental Science students developed the lesson plans with support from advisors Rebecca Maynard and Emily Rathmell. At most schools, the lessons were taught in English and in Spanish or Portuguese by bilingual members of the Environmental Awareness Club.
“This is such a great story and an effort that took considerable planning both with the club and also coordinating with each of the Elementary Schools,” offered Rebecca Maynard, Advisor to the Environmental Club and Science Teacher at Framingham High School. “All of the kids had such a great time; it was so meaningful to all involved. I am grateful to all who helped this happen, especially my colleague Emily Rathmell who was instrumental in bringing this collaborative project to life.”
Neil Rhein, founder of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful, collaborated with the FHS students and offered feedback on the lesson plans, which provided age-appropriate information via engaging activities and fun games.
FHS student teachers Tea Dedic and Sarah Lopez answer kindergarteners’ questions in both English and Portuguese.
In one game, kindergarteners and first graders were given bags full of waste items like cardboard, styrofoam, batteries, and egg cartons. Their job was to work together to sort the items into piles of recyclable and non-recyclable items, while FHS student teachers offered encouragement, guidance, and kudos for a job well done.
The young students were enthusiastic participants, always eager to share an anecdote about how they carefully crossed the street to pick up a piece of litter a few weeks ago, or to give their unique interpretation of the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). After many of the lessons, the FHS student teachers left with drawings, hugs, and assurances from their students that they would recycle devotedly from then on.
With Rhein’s help, the Environmental Club is working on distributing the lesson plans to other Massachusetts school districts, and possibly expanding the lessons to older grade levels. After all, the more students are educated about the importance of recycling, the more likely we are to raise a sustainably-minded new generation who will protect the earth as they grow.