Educating our youths on the proper ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle is the most surefire way to create environmental leaders and protect our communities. Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction recognizes this, and that is why it offers 11 exciting programs for school aged kids in grades Pre-K through grade 8. Not only do these programs provide quality education fit to Indiana State Academic standards, they are also engaging, interactive, and fun so that children can really absorb the information they’re learning.
The goal of the programs is to provide lessons that capture the imagination and that the child continues to inquire about and investigate long after the activity is over. The programs incorporate a variety of different learning styles, encouraging students to learn through exploration, logical thinking, and discovery.
Allison Andersen, an Educator with Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction, said that there is a fourth “R” that kids learn through these programs: “Rethink.”
“As China is restricting so much of what the United States used to send for recycling, we need to rethink about our everyday decisions and purchases,” Andersen said. “Do we have our cloth shopping bags with us when we go to the stores? Are we buying items that immediately go to the trash or the recycling bin, or can those items be saved and reused? Most things we purchase and use are for moments only such as water bottles, plastic grocery bags, and straws.”
Each program pinpoints a specific topic and allows students to learn about that topic through a fun lesson and typically a fun activity that address the topic.
“We cover a variety of topics, from composting with red wiggler worms, to using ladybugs in the garden and yard instead of chemicals to rid our plants of aphids, and so many other things,” said Educator Allison Andersen. “Kids learn about the benefits of renewable energy, landfill construction, garbology and of course the 4 R's to name a few.”
Here are a couple of more specific examples of the different school programs offered through Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction.
For students in grades 2 through 4, there is the classic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink. In this program, students learn about natural resources that are used to make products, materials that are recyclable, and how to reduce, reuse, and rethink. They also get a chance to see products made from recycled materials.
Another classic is the Lesson of the Lorax for Kindergarten-aged kids through 2nd Graders. This familiar lesson reviews the basic needs of plants and animals and the importance of trees. The Dr. Seuss story "The Lorax" is read, and students get to act out the story in the form of a play!
Things get even more interesting in some of these lessons. In Edible Landfill, students make a model landfill in a cup, learning about the design and layers of materials used in the construction of a modern landfill. They also learn about the factors that can impact the surrounding environment, including groundwater. Of course, this landfill is sweeter than the real thing…
Some programs incorporate cute creepy crawlers. Wonderful Worms is as fantastic as it sounds. In their study of vermicomposting worms, students will assemble a model of a worm, learn about composting, and use magnifiers or microscopes to examine live red wiggler worms! In Lovely Ladybugs, students learn about the life cycle and body parts of ladybugs, as well as the dangers of pesticides and a safe alternative. Each student gets to examine a live ladybug and release it into nature.
For higher grades, there are more intensive programs such as Renewable Energy and Garbology. In Renewable Energy, students will review renewable and non-renewable resources and the problems of nonrenewable energy. Alternative energy sources including wind, solar, hydro and geothermal are presented, and students will enjoy an interactive activity demonstrating how electricity is generated. They also get to operate a solar-powered device!
In Garbology, the science of garbology will be compared to archeology. Students will learn about the scientific method and construct a timeline or chronology. They will examine clean garbage in small groups and come up with observations and inferences about people they haven’t met based on their garbage habits.
Those are just a few examples of the amazing variety of programs Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction offers to Porter County schools. Teachers, programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to schedule your programs early in the year. (Last year, most of spring dates were booked by the end of the fall semester!) Don’t miss an opportunity to give students an important and fun learning experience that they’ll never forget.
“By encouraging the students to think differently about their carbon imprint on the planet, they will gain a better understanding that they can do to make positive change for their futures,” Andersen said.
For more information, visit portercountyrecycling.org/education/k-12-programs.