I teach fifth grade Science in Far Rockaway in a school located on the beach. The natural spaces in our community are under-used and over-abused. We would like to focus on the impact of humans on the land water and wildlife. I would like my students to understand the problem, educate others, and be a part making a positive change for our future. I take trips to many local natural spaces for observations and environmental studies like collecting, analyzing, characterizing, and comparing soil samples and water samples from Bayswater Park, Forest Park, Alley Pond Park, and Dead Horse Bay. We learn the history of each area, as well as biotic and abiotic factors of each ecosystem and changes that have occurred over time.
We see a lot of debris at our local park and beach in the areas closest to wildlife ie along the coast of Jamaica Bay or on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. As we look at the streets in our neighborhood we see litter that has the potential to blow to our ocean. We watch as trash blows from uncovered cans on streets, in our school yard, on the board walk, and on the beach to the direction of the ocean. We would like to focus our project on how coastline communities like ours have a greater impact the debris especially plastic in the ocean. We would like to look into putting closed trash cans with lids in our school yards, local parks near Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and the beach and boardwalk in our community. We will create art in many different forms ie. garbage quits, recycled sculptures, drawings, poetry, rap music videos) to make students, teachers, parents, and families aware of how we can positively and negatively impact the ocean and bay ecosystems.
We will conduct surveys to see how students, staff, and citizens in our school community feel about the situation with trash in our school yard or on the ground in the neighborhood. Do they think it is a problem? If so for who? Why? What is causing it? What effects does trash have when not disposed of correctly? Then we will educate the school community by visiting classes, holding assemblies, Hosting Beach Clean-Ups, speaking at the PTA meetings, Writing Blurbs for grade newsletters, and sharing our art. We will then conduct a post-program survey to see if awareness and views changed.
We will work with a local community organization that I have worked closely with for the last 4 years. This past spring they just opened their RISE center (Rockaway Institute for a Sustainable Earth). They have other elementary schools that they work with in Rockaway that we can visit and educate too. We will conduct pre and post surveys with the schools we campaign at to see if our presentations have a positive impact on students understanding and daily practices.
We will hope to be successful in our closed and lidded garbage pail idea or find another way to ensure trash that is disposed of properly stays in the trash cans.