News / USA

For Children at Maryland School, Earth Day is Every Day

Cereal boxes are reused to make house fences at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
Cereal boxes are reused to make house fences at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
Karlina Amkas
The world celebrates Earth Day every year on April 22. But one private school in the suburban Washington city of Potomac, Maryland, commemorates Earth Day every day. There, children up to six years of age learn about the environment and take action to show their love of the Earth. 

A child's world is the world of playing. They love being outside in the open air, chasing each other, sliding or playing on a seesaw.
 
Worm observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)Worm observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
x
Worm observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
Worm observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
At St. James school in Potomac, Maryland, children between the ages of two and six add to their world full of fun by observing worms and picking up trash in the school yard. Inside their classrooms, they conserve water and electricity, re-use and recycle, and every spring, cultivate soil to plant flowers and vegetables in the school's garden.
 
Rebecca Boker teaches the children the importance of preserving the earth.
 
“If children learn it early on when they are younger, it will become a part of their daily lives," she explained. "Not something that they have to think twice about. It should be something that every one does. That way it becomes an integral part of their daily routines.”

"What happens if the water has chemicals in it?" Boker asked her students.

"Then the plant wouldn’t grow," one child suggested.

"It would die," another child offered.

"It could go down and then go back into the ground," a third child theorized.

"Right, it may grow for a little while," Boker told the children, "but then the plants are going to know that it’s not clean water, just like other plants and animals in our earth need clean water, don’t they?"

Boker said at St. James,  every day is Earth Day. She pointed to books in all the classrooms, and rows and rows of books in the school library. Most of the books contain materials that encourage children to do something to preserve the environment, to protect the Earth.
 
“This is their home," Boker stressed. "You are visitors in their home. So it is your job to respect their home just like you want others to respect your home and treat your home nicely.”

Plant observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA/ K. Amkas)Plant observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA/ K. Amkas)
x
Plant observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA/ K. Amkas)
Plant observation area of classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA/ K. Amkas)
At St. James, children are invited to observe the growth of plants from seeds to sprouts in used plastic cups kept in the classroom, then to grow them in the garden. They also observe the life cycle of butterflies and insects, and learn about rain and sea life.

Other materials about nature and its effects on human life are available around the school: a special rain garden, beds of flowers and vegetables, a compost bucket, and worms. In each class, a lot of materials are made from re-using unwanted things or recycling waste. For example, an area rug in the middle of every classroom is made of recycled tires.

“Every day we remind them always … that goes to the recycling," explained Courtney Mollman, another teacher at the school. "And then on Earth Day we do huge garden clean-up, and we’ve been talking to them about what that means.”

There also is a bathroom in every classroom. Mollman explained the important role of these half-baths in directing children to preserve the environment, to familiarize them with conserving water and electricity, and to be smart in using toilet paper.

Reusable bags hang on hooks in the classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)Reusable bags hang on hooks in the classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
x
Reusable bags hang on hooks in the classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
Reusable bags hang on hooks in the classroom at St. James school in Potomac, Maryland (Photo: VOA / K. Amkas)
Boker said the children "totally understand" the message they are trying to convey.
Even kids as young as 2, she said, can see that there are blue bins for recycling, or they are not going to break toys, so that they won't end up in a big trash bag.
 
"Imagine how fish feel when they are swimming around and see your trash floating around at the beach? Would that be fun for them?" Boker asked her students.

"It’s gonna block their way," one child offered.

"It also might have chemicals on it. Then what happens?" Boker asked.

"They’ll die," the class responded in unison.

"It’s bad for the Earth," added a student.

Earth Day, observed every year since 1970, is designed to increase awareness of and appreciation for our planet.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs