Here is how the project went:
We are mid-stream with our work this year. Students have banded together to create plans to make our school more aware of what is happening in our environment through various activities.
Through this project I/we learned:
One of the surprising challenges was the aspect of how to spend the grant money wisely. I gave students full power to decide and at first it was paralyzing. Once they started dreaming and planning, they realized it was more important for their spending to be sustainable rather than be a handful of gift cards for student incentives. Instead they purchased supplies like gloves, bags, and art supplies for creating art from nature and recycled items. They also learned how challenging it can be to have students meet at designated times after school, so their plans need to honor others' time AND be enticing.
What I/we might change:
As I mentioned, my students are still in the middle of their work to build our school's first Environmental Alliance Club. They are planning a couple of activities for the next semester, so it is a chance for them to reflect and make changes. Goals include recruiting a couple of new members, conducting another citizen science project (most likely related to trash pickup), and finding at least one new way to educate others about our environment.
My/our favorite part of this project was:
As group facilitator, I literally handed the reins over to the club leaders and watched them struggle, debate, and think critically about what they wanted to do and the best way(s) to accomplish them. I feel the group leaders have grown immensely in confidence.
Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:
Budgeting with the grant money was HUGE. Sit quietly in the background as students work through what makes sense. Let them struggle. These conversations were what really helped hone their focus for the club as a whole and in turn, how they wanted to accomplish their goals.