Gilbert fifth-grade teacher Nancy Hannigan knelt down and picked up a newspaper article and a piece of Styrofoam that had been buried three months ago and was recently excavated. The Greenfield Elementary School teacher noted that neither showed any signs of decay and both items were pretty much intact even after a year of being buried.
“What the students will see is that these items will be a part of the environment for many years if they are not recycled,” said Karen Schedler, science program manager with the Center for Teacher Success.
The demonstration was just one exercise for the dozens of teachers who attended the recent 5th Annual Global Climate Change in the Southwest: An Academy for Educators, hosted by Salt River Project and the Center for Teacher Success.
For this particular experiment, Schedler showed the teachers how they could create their own little landfills in buckets by burying items familiar to the students at the beginning of the school year and digging them up at the end of the year.
The workshop, which brought together about 60 teachers who will impact hundreds of students next school year, helps teachers as they prepare Arizona students to tackle the complex issue of global climate change, said Alison Smith with SRP and one of the workshop presenters.
The teachers were provided with lesson plans, teaching ideas and went on tours of hydroelectric and landfill gas plants operated by SRP as well as the Audubon Visitors Center, where SRP donated solar panels to help offset their energy usage.
“There’s so much I can bring back to the classroom and share with my students who can make a difference,” Hannigan said.
• Patty Garcia-Likens is a media relations representative for SRP.