Earth Day, unlike most holidays, is concerned with present and future conditions.
This provides a golden opportunity for hands-on learning activities for students like Paisley Green and Mason Stidham.
The Chandler seventh-graders joined more than 400 youths last week at Santan K-8 School teaching each other about the world’s ecological systems. Their class learned about deserts and then prepared dioramas, games and other tools to teach their peers about the subject.
They may know a lot about the Arizona desert they live in, but they also learned about others across the globe.
“I didn’t know there are deserts, like, everywhere,” Paisley said. “They’re everywhere except Europe and Antarctica.”
“I didn’t think there was such a thing as a cold desert — the tundra,” Mason said.
These hands-on activities happened on a massive scale in Scottsdale on Thursday, when about a thousand fourthgraders from the city were bused to WestWorld for EnviroKidsFest ’06.
Teachers and volunteers shepherded students among booths where they painted environmentally themed murals, decorated solarpowered pizza-heating boxes and went through a hands-on recycling quiz.
Tavan Elementary School student Priscilla Carrioza, 9, beamed and said “yeah” when asked if she thinks she now knows more about recycling than her parents do.
Janey Kaufmann, science and social studies coordinator for the Scottsdale Unified School district, said the main reason for bringing kids to a centralized location is the topnotch displays available to them.
The city sponsors the event, but activities are carefully coordinated with the fourth-grade curriculum and the students’ abilities.
“The only way I could support it taking my kids away from the classroom is to have the activities match the fourth-grade curriculum,” Kaufmann said.
Other East Valley schools held recycling drives, planted gardens and did other activities for Earth Day, which was Saturday.
Nigel Taplan, head of the private Tesseract School in Paradise Valley, said students there collaborated on projects such as creating an environmentally friendly cleaning solution to use on campus, planting desert-appropriate vegetation and other activities that culminated in an Earth Fest.