In an effort to further GEM's mission, our team has worked over the past few years to create educational content that is engaging, creative, and environmentally friendly! With that in mind, in honor of Great Outdoors Month, we are highlighting a few ways we make our lesson plans environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In October of 2019, GEM held a STEM Day for third and fourth graders at Primavera Elementary School. Madison Link, the leader of this STEM Day, wanted to showcase how students could utilize recycled materials for hands-on learning. One of these engaging activities used old two-liter bottles for a multi-step experiment. First, GEM volunteers cut the two-liter bottles in half and filled the bottom half with soil and rocks. Students then used their scientific skills to excavate and identify the rocks.
After the students identified their findings, they used the soil-filled bottle as a potholder and planted seeds. GEM shared more about proper gardening techniques, how to take care of the seeds, and the potential for their seeds to grow into beautiful flowers! Once the students had their instructions for care, they used the tops of the two-liter bottles to water their seeds for the first time!
Following this, our team led an impactful discussion exploring types of materials that are recyclable for STEM activities. Ideas ranged from a bottle rocket using household supplies to repurposing old boxes for forts. This discussion allowed the students' creativity to come to life while still encouraging sustainability and environmental engagement.
2. Using Compostable Materials
Being a community organization, our team values community events and engagement. With this in mind, we participated in the 2019 CASA for Kid's Annual Halloween 5k! Our team set up a booth where young learners could create their very own flying bats! Each participant picked two compostable straws, one slightly bigger than the other, and one pre-printed bat outline. After coloring the bats, students taped the bat onto the marginally larger straw, making sure to cover the hole at the top. Students put the smaller straw into the bigger straw and blew into it, making the bat fly off!
This craft was both engaging and environmentally friendly, as the straws were compostable and the paper bat could be recycled. Our team enjoyed sharing our passion for the environment, working with community members, and most of all, watching students 'fly' their bats!
3. Nature Activities
Prescott is unique for many reasons, but our favorite aspect is the fantastic rocks and geological sites! These natural wonders draw geologists, rock enthusiasts, and curious folks from all over the country. Wanting to share these wonders with young learners, GEM offered a hands-on geological learning activity at the Greater Prescott Outdoors Fund Earth Week celebration. At GEM's booth, students searched for and identified rocks, geodes, and gems with the help of our volunteers. After identifying their findings, students reburied the rocks for other children to find later! This activity was exceptional because it allowed young learners to engage with the natural world around them without disturbing any local ecology. Our team had such a great time sharing this learning experience with our community, and we can't wait for next year's Earth Week celebrations!
We hope our experiences and ideas spark inspiration, curiosity, and excitement for your next STEM activity! We love to hear from our readers; share any environmentally friendly activities you enjoy in the comments! Hiking on designated trails, utilizing reusable bags, and supporting local ecological efforts are all great ways to be a friend to the environment!