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 Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid