Today Buchanan Middle School has four Eco-Conversations connections, two with the UK (Wigan and Torfaen), one with Ontario, and one with Texas. Our focus for these sessions has been on water bottle pollution.
Our class prepared posters explaining the effects of water bottle pollution, including pictures of the local environment. The classes have been collecting water bottles to recycle and they have a mattress bag full of water bottles.
The first session was with a school in Wigan, and they told us about their recycling program. The real learning in this connection happened in the question and answer time. For example, the two classes shared where they have access to recycling. In Wigan, they can recycle all kinds of things including clothes and shoes at the supermarket. We don’t have that in our area – mostly just plastic recycling at the grocery store. Another question from our class was, “Do you think our accents sound different?” which started a discussion of how we sound different to each other. Our class also showed a toy car made out of water bottles and an RC engine. The students in the UK loved it.
Our second session was with a school in Torfaen, Wales. Both teachers in this session are graduates of the Jazz workshop. Our class shared an introductory PPT about their community with pictures etc. Our partner class had posters and pictures to talk about recycling and reducing their carbon footprint, complete with footprint notes. They talked about the costs of water bottles, and the lack of fluoride in bottled water for young children’s teeth and bones as well as other environmental issues. Their eco club told us a story of correcting their principal in his use of electricity. “I was shamed in front of the school,” he said! Everyone is learning together to reduce their consumption. Then our class had each group share their posters about water bottle issues and the water bottle pile and toy. Then the class in Wales asked our students questions. Both classes asked each other about their sources of information. Our friends in Wales have required recycling, but we don’t know of anywhere in the US that has a law that everyone has to recycle. We learned about “Dan the Can” and the students drew and colored pictures of him and brainstormed some other possible projects between the classes. we found out that it’s free to recycle in the UK, but we have to pay extra to recycle. Our partner class started their eco club 4 years ago and won this flag for their work in the community, planting trees, educating others, showing how they are saving energy, etc. They are understandably very proud of their flag!
Our third session was with a class in Barrie, Ontario. Both classes shared presentations with each other. The class in Barrie surveyed the students in the school and found that the students thought bottled water tasted better. Then they did a blind taste test and they preferred the tap water! They included both US and Canada stats in their presentation and had great pics to illustrate their facts. During Q&A time the classes ask each other several questions that had a show of hands: how many drink tap water at home? how many recycle water bottles? how many like water bottles? It was a great way to compare and see how well the students at both classes were applying their learning. The class in Ontario showed us their recycling bin too.
Our fourth class connected to McGregor, TX. They had lots of great facts and issues about water bottles including the amount people spend on water bottles, the issues of BPA plastic, etc. The students really enjoyed sharing, and our teacher shared with the TX students some of what we learned from the other classes this morning.
We have one more section that is connecting to a class in British Columbia in November after our state testing is done. This project has again been a great experience for our students!