23 March 2008

Project Learning and Earth Day

One activity I'm doing with a club I sponsor after school, the Blue Planet Society, involves the Phoenix Zoo. The zoo has invited high schools to paint barrels with an environmental theme, which will then be placed around the zoo as containers for recyclable items. On Earth Day the zoo staff will judge the essays submitted with the barrels in the Environmental Connections Essay Contest. The schools/groups that win the Favorite Barrel Contest and Environmental Connections Contest will receive a free Zoo-To-You Outreach program of their choice.

The students are having a blast in the painting and the essay is coming along. I am enjoying watching them arrive at what to paint. They split into two groups and each group has really struggled with the "right" thing to paint. There's a lot of social dynamics occurring that I didn't anticipate. Then we had to move into who was going to paint and we ended up asking a very talented student, who's not in the club. to help us. The essay effort is being headed by three students and we will have a draft later this week.

Besides the social stuff, everyone is learning some painting concepts. Plus, everyone is participating in the ideas we all present in the essay. There is that, what I call, "project richness" that takes place when you have students exchanging ideas, challenging each other, asking questions, and trying to fit in with each other ..... a very active project indeed. I am asking students to write a two paragraph summary about what they learned by participating in the project.

We need to submit the completed barrels and essay in two weeks. One thing, no matter how well we planned, we are getting jammed with running out of time. But, the students are committed to getting it done so I'm sure we will. Click here to see the Phoenix Zoo site about the project in general.

I will keep you posted on our progress. Here are some photos of the work we are doing....

Business meeting to make a plan.

Putting on the primer.

Adding the design work.

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