On a typical day in the Middle School, students in science classes are challenged to think about our environment as any scientist should: consider the human impact on our ecological world, its effect on our quality of life, and how we can be better stewards of our planet. But April 22 isn’t a typical day — it’s Earth Day — and Earth Day (especially the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day) is a big deal at Cary Academy. Not even a shift to virtual learning could keep CA Middle School students from considering their place in and impact on our planet.
On Wednesday, the Middle School did not hold regular classes. Instead, students were asked to go outside, have fun, and explore their world while participating in a selection of activities via a “Celebrate Our Earth” digital tic-tac-toe grid. Recognizing that we cannot heal our planet alone and taking advantage of the undeniable fact that students have an unprecedented opportunity to invite their families to help them “own their learning,” family participation was widely encouraged.
The activities included:
- Use the iNaturalist citizen science app to make observations in their yards,
- Make a vegetarian dinner to examine fighting climate change with diet change,
- Reuse challenge: create a new use for something that’s being thrown out or recycled,
- Make an art project out of recyclables or items from nature that represents Earth Day. Tied to “Artists for The Earth,” a global campaign to connect the public with ecologically-minded arts organizations and artists everywhere,
- Plant a new plant – grow new plants from kitchen scraps or from cuttings from other plants,
- Nature scavenger hunt – look for a list of plants, insects, rocks, etc. in your neighborhood,
- Create a poster to bring awareness to an environmental issue,
- Documenting and crafting poetry to advocate for the value of nature, and
- Natural journal activities.
The MS Science Department felt the importance for CA students (and their families, too) to take a day to enjoy and celebrate our planet with the rest of the world. It was a fun way to encourage everyone to take a break from the virtual classroom, while still learning, with the added benefit of reducing our energy use for the day.
In addition, MS Visual Artists were asked to create Ephemeral Works in Nature, largely inspired by the works of environmental artist, sculptor, and photographer, Andy Goldsworthy.
At the end of Earth Day, more than 444 tic-tac-toe entries were submitted, including some by staff and faculty from across Cary Academy.