Issue: Environmental Responsibility
Grant Amount: 50,140.00
New Orleans, LA
Year Funded: 2011
This project will expose ReNEW’s high school students to their very first service learning experince by having them investigate pollution on and around their 2 campuses. High schoolers will test soil and water, visit a landfill, and propose solutions to local pollution. They will outreach to all PK-8 schools and start the first-ever district-wide recycling program, as well as leading litter abatement campaigns and educating younger students about the impact of pollution, ways to make an impact, and the service learning process.
While going through the steps of the IPARDC service learning model, students will master science content and state grade level expectations (GLEs) by investigating pollution, researching its impact on the environment and humans, investigating solutions, and implementing a rich action plan to engage students, staff, and community members at all ReNEW campuses. Classroom and field activities allow students to investigate pollution through ‘Do Landfills Really Work?’ kits, visits to a landfill, and backpack soil and water test kits used in campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Guided reasearch, creating recycling programs, and litter abatement campains at all six campuses will allow students to: give examples of pollution and describe effect on populations; evaluate whether a resource is renewable based on regeneration time; analize data to determine when reuse, recycling, and recovery are applicable; describe how accountability toward the environment affects sustainability; and discuss how education/collaboration can effect prevention and control of pollutants.
Continuing the effort
Spring state assessments (LEAP and iLEAP) are in, and science scores are improving across the district. Compared to last spring, K-8 scores went from 34.2% Proficient in 2011 to 44.8% Proficient in 2012, an increase of 10.6 percentage points. This means more students are scoring Basic, Mastery, or Advanced levels. District-wide professional development is underway, and all science teachers learned about service learning as a way to positively impact student achievement. This is the first time service learning has made the professional development agenda! A series of trash collection actiivities are scheduled for the beginning of August--with a twist. ReNEW's at-risk middle school students will be paired with afflutent private school students to positively impact the environment and neigborhoods. At the same time they will bridge social gaps and gain exposure to very different life experiences. They will discover that people from diverse backgrounds have many things in common.
June 2012: A service learning pre and post was given to students to measure student perception regarding Solutions to Pollution. Results were strong; they made gains across ALL indicators, where 1=strongly disagree; 4=strongly agree:
Post test results:
1) I like being at school--4
2) I am interested in the work at school--3
3) I feel that the schoolwork I am assigned is meaningful and challenging--3
4) I feel that school is worthwhile--4
5) I pay attention in class--4
1) I am likely to graduate from high school--3
2) I am likely to continue my education past high school--4
3) I am likely to graduate from a 2-year college, community college, or technical school--3
4) I am likely to graduate from a 4-year college--4
21st Century Skills
1) I am good at working as part of a team--3
2) I am good at being a leader in a group--4
3) I am good at listening to other people's ideas even if they are different from my own--1
4) I am good at taking on different roles and responsibilities--4
5) I am good at researching an idea or issue--4
1) Service learning helps to solve a community problem--4
2) Service learning helps me to master GLEs--3
3) Service learning relates to what I am learning in class--3
4) Service learning includes celebration--4
5) I feel good about helping my school and community--4
Solutions to Pollution
1) Why is recycling is important to your community?
Response: To save the world; so you won’t waste anything
2) Name three things that can be recycled:
Response: Cans, paper, glass, plastic
3) List 3 or more pollution problems in your neighborhood or campus:
Response: Littering, air, gas
Students are really excited by the opportunities Solutions to Pollution has provided to make in-class learning more exploratory and hands-on. High school students continue to use back pack labs and landfill simulation kits. 3rd-5th grade students at SciTech are leading their school's recycling efforts by making afternoon collections. SciTech Academy and Batiste Academy partnered to clean up a heavily littered area in the city. Two school leaders have announced they will create a a special class that will havily rely on service learning as a way to further engage students, build leadership opportunities, and increase student initiative, exploration, and problemsolving.
With the onset of spring and spring breaks, volunteers have been supporting Solutions to Pollution by helping ReNEW students with campus cleanup campaigns and litter abatement. Pictured to the left is 5th grader Dedrick Biagas thanking volunteers from Wonder Voyage for all of their hard work over 4 days at the SciTech, RAHS #2, and Batiste campuses. Above, high school students at RAHS #2 collect litter outside of the perimeter fence as a solution to the problem.
Students are preparing for state testing, and it will be interesting to see how Solutions to Pollution has impacted their' science learning. Recent/ongoing activities include campus litter abatement campaigns and daily recycling. Local and out-of-state volunteers have been helping with litter collection and beautification at all five ReNEW campuses. The above photo shows the newly cleaned and renovated PK-2 playground at SciTech Academy. Improvements included breakdown of broken and discarded items, removal of old plywood with nails, pick up and disposal of trash, and fresh paint and plants to make the space more inviting for our youngest scholars.
Students have been working independently and in groups to master content and GLEs covered in Solutions to Pollution. Teachers are planning field trips to a working landfill so students can observe, make impressions, and evaluate the impact of human consumption on the environment and society, both in the short term and over many years. Recycling activities are continuing across the ReNEW Schools network.
December 2011 Post:
State Farm's YAB grant has allowed our high school science program to be enhanced with a variety of learning materials that support service learning and mastery of biology and environmental science Grade Level Expections (GLEs). The program has provided backpack labs, which arrived a week ago, and will allow students to work in teams to test the soil and water quality of the campus grounds and immediate neighborhood. Data will be used to enhance the walkabout needs assessment, which allowed students to visually inspect their surroundings and record data including litter qualtity, type, and location. Bi-weekly recycling is ongoing after small kinks with the pick up schedule. "Lagniappe" to our project is the new relationships we have formed with local State Farm folks. We are working to create ongoing volunteer opportunities for these wonderful folks to assist our students in their daily academics.
October, 2011 Post:
ReNEW Charter Schools were honored by a visit to their October Board Meeting by several State Farm employees who presented a large novelty check to ReNEW to support the Solutions to Pollution project. Thanks State Farm!
In September, 2011, a cadre of high school students from both the City Park and West Bank campuses visited the Brown Foundation's annual service learning fair. There they met with community partners, viewed other service ideas and projects, and assisted fair organizers with a Reuse Tree. Students have taken a service learning pretest and distributed indoor recycling bins to all ReNEW campuses. Phoenix Recycling comes to each ReNEW campus bi-weekly to pick up recycling materials, and student service learning hours are being logged as they complete in-class and after school service-related activities.