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Learning the Power of Power

2nd and 3rd graders explored their own power to make change as part of a year-long unit on POWER at Aurora School.

It all started with a science field trip to the San Francisco Bay shoreline. Students had a chance to run nets through the water to find living creatures. They looked at zooplankton and phytoplankton through microscopes. They went on a 3-mile hike and learned about the plants and animals that live in the environment. They counted up all the living things they saw: snow egrets, giant egrets, pickle weed, salt grass, pygmy blue butterflies, ghost shrimp, salt marsh harvest mice, sandpipers, mallard ducks, mud crabs, vultures, mud snails, and more.

THEN . . . the students came back to school and learned that a big company, Cargill, Inc. planned to pave over similar wetlands in nearby Redwood City. What a great chance to exercise their power! Students wrote letters to the Redwood City Council, local newspapers, the Army Corp of Engineers, Save the Bay, and Cargill’s CEO, to voice their opinion.
Their letters were published in various newspapers and on Facebook. They even received a kind letter of support from Redwood City’s City Council and mayor! All of this recognition was extremely exciting and rewarding for the students. They were able to see first hand that they are able start a conversation, work toward change, and use their powers to positively affect our world.

Most exciting (and surprising) to the students was that Cargill responded! A representative from Cargill came to Aurora to give a presentation about the company, the planned development site, and answer the students’ questions. That same week, a representative from Save the Bay also came in so that the students could hear from both sides. Teachers prepared the students in a variety of ways, drafting meaningful questions and teaching how one can respectfully disagree.

In the end teachers were able to integrate nearly all areas of the curriculum into one POWERful experience for our students.

Does your school do something similar?

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