Recycling and Environmental Conservation
I am passionate about conserving resources and mindful recycling (or reducing waste). Each school year I want to help students become aware of what is going on around them in relevant and useful ways. My hope is for each child to connect with something that interests them as they become an advocate or steward for change and making a difference in their community.
Get Kids Excited
Initially, I get the kids excited about their learning environment by adopting a class mascot. Last year our class adopted sea otters. We learned that sea otters are important in managing sea urchins and keeping the ocean’s kelp forests healthy. Students were excited as they learned more about these topics:
- Sea otters are aquatic engineers and balance harm to ocean environments.
- Kelp feeds sea otters and absorbs carbon in the ocean.
- Management of microplastics and single use plastics in the environment can reduce pollution.
- Effective conservation strategies in the home, community, and the environment can have a significant impact on waste reduction.
- Kids can make a difference in their communities.
- Honey bees are important in balancing the ecosystem.
Learn About Recycling
Our end of the year project was to invent and create new objects on collage boards after collecting recycled trash at school and in neighborhoods. The students worked as teams to build a honey bee playground. They used plastic tape, food packaging, bubble wrap, cereal cups, straws, and plastic bags. As students worked on their projects, they learned it takes 20 years for a plastic bag to decompose and 200 years for a plastic straw. Now their next challenge will be to study products that can made from these byproducts. For example, I recently purchased a recycled purse made from cork and gave a friend a recycled cosmetic bag with recycled soaps.
As we enter our next school year, what can students, parents, and teachers do together to limit the pollution and waste in our communities? Please share your ideas in the comments section below this blog.
Melissa has been an educator for over 20 years, and has spent the largest block of her teaching career in second grade, with additional experience in Grades 1 through 4.
After graduating from the University of Nevada with a Bachelor of Science Degree in education, with a dual degree in special education, Melissa traveled through Europe. Ms. Donahoe taught her first teaching assignment at a Department of Defense School in Germany. Following her husband’s military career, she also taught at a Title 1 school in Ft. Lewis, and finally landed in Silicon Valley, where she has taught for the past 16 years.
Melissa trained with the Noyce Foundation’s Writer’s Workshop. She has served as a Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) coach at her school, where she facilitated curiosity and a love for learning among her students.
Melissa developed a passion for biodiversity after visiting Monterey Bay Aquarium with her nephew. She adopted a sea otter mascot named “Loutre” and discovered her fascination with ocean health, imparting to her students the relationship between sea otters and their critical role in maintaining healthy kelp forests. Along with ocean health, Melissa inspires awareness among her students about microplastics in the environment. She is a follower of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program and believes that small changes at home can foster activism that leads to healthy life habits.
Melissa has a daughter who is a junior in high school and a son who is attending his second year of college at the University of Nevada.