By Dr. Elaine Kanas,
East Williston School District
On June 12, North Side held its biannual Earth Day Extravaganza. Every two years North Side dedicates a day in the spring to celebrate Earth Day in a big way. Each grade has a special schedule throughout the day with varied activities that teach Earth Day themes and concepts. The activities are developed and presented by the North Side staff and several outside entities, including programs put on by the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island Science Center, Alley Pond Environmental Center, Mad Science, Nature Nick, PAWS and Eric Powers.
Kindergarten students learned about animals, sun safety, parts of the earth and weather. First graders learned about plants, butterfly life cycles, fossils, weather patterns and how to take care of animals. Second graders had activities about animal wellness, gardening, our living planet and songs about the earth. Third graders learned about agamographs, animal wellness, rain forests and created earth related art projects. Fourth graders learned about renewable energy, how to handle the garbage problem, turtles and an earth day related art project. All grades were treated to a wonderful presentation from Mad Science called Fire and Ice.
Kids Take Action is a North Side club, where students and North Side librarian and club advisor Karen Homer make a difference in the community and in the world around them. Based on the premise that children are never too young to reach out to others in compassion and/or in gratitude, some of their activities include simple crafts such as holiday cards for school staff members or placemats for recipients of Meals on Wheels. In spring, the club’s attention turns to environmental issues, like recycling plastic bottle caps and helping Clark Gardens replace missing specimens after Hurricane Sandy.
This spring, after noticing the number of unrecyclable watercolor markers that were used up and thrown away each year, in the North Side Library alone, the club decided to try an experiment—re-use or recycle each part of the marker in an effort to keep it out of landfills and oceans.
Instructions for extracting the ink-filled core of the markers were easily found with a little research. Students removed the tips, while Mrs. Homer took out the core itself. Put into a bottle with some water, the cores rendered a lovely collection of watercolor paints, in all colors. Next, the “club kids” gamely tried Mrs. Homer’s project for the barrels—a wind chime. The addition of a few inexpensive items such as lanyard, beads and jingle bells turned the marker barrels into pretty and functional wind chimes.
Enthusiasm for the project spread through all the grades. First graders enjoyed a session of checkers and tic-tac-toe using marker caps and plugs from the top of the barrel. The innovative color schemes of their boards enabled everyone to use caps in the color of their choice. Third graders will use the ink washes to create a Japanese-style watercolor painting. Other students will re-reuse the caps and other pieces on Earth Day to contribute to a decorative plaque for the North Side Courtyard garden.