Students celebrate as their sand and rock barriers divert rising water from the houses.
“Climate change” are words we hear every day. While we all try to do our part by recycling, composting, and carpooling, 7th graders at Charles River School went a few steps further and organized a Climate Change Fair and Panel to help teach kids about this important issue. Younger students visited the Fair and older students attended the Panel, which featured climate change experts, educators and activists.
Early childhood and elementary students learned about climate change and ways to help prevent it at the Fair. Activities and games designed by 7th graders, included a sorting game where kids learned about what goes into the recycle bin, the trash and the compost, a trivia wheel where kids answered questions about endangered animals, and stations where they created climate change drawings and planted sunflower seeds.
“We did it! Yes!” 3rd graders cheered, as they watched the water run between rock and sand barriers they erected to protect their houses. Through this game, called “Save the City,” students learned about rising sea levels and the effects of flooding due to climate change; during the challenge, water slowly flooded into three different landscapes and kids worked to prevent the water from reaching the buildings.
The Panel followed the Fair and featured a number of climate change experts, educators, and activists: Janet Bowser, and environmental attorney attending on behalf of the Representatives for MCAN (Massachusetts Climate Action Network); Cheryl Schnitzer, a professor from Stonehill College; James Turner, a professor from Wellesley College; and Nick Rabb, a representative from the Sunrise Movement visited CRS to participate. Panelists talked about ways that everyone (regardless of age) can influence change, how greenhouse gases get trapped, the need to reduce trash and trash incineration, ways that the rising sea level will affect Boston, and alternatives for fueling cars in the future (like algae).
CRS 7th graders participated in a Model United Nations simulation on climate change earlier this year, and this project evolved from that experience. Students worked in small, collaborative groups to organize the Fair and Panel – designing fun and educational games, researching possible panel participants, reaching out to them, and following up until they had assembled a strong group. They gathered all necessary supplies, planned logistics, and wrote a letter to teachers across the school about both events.
“This was a learning experience. Plans went through multiple revisions, and students had to shift original ideas to make the Fair and the Panel work,” said Chris Raskin, 7th grade Social Studies teacher. “I think they are aware that they are making a small, but important, impact on mitigating climate change.”