Our Lady of Wisdom’s grade four class was awarded the Action Challenge grand prize of $500 for their efforts in various environmental actions within the classroom to reduce their eco-impact on Feb. 6.
The grade four students participated in 21 actions to reduce classroom waste including turning plastic bottles into bird feeders, school-yard clean up’s, creating environmental awareness posters, composting by feeding scraps to worms, tending to a vegetable garden, paper recycling, and marker recycling, where the dried markers were sent to Crayola and then turned into clean fuel.
“The students learned that plastic will take over 1000 years to break down and just sit in a landfill, so we might as well recycle,” said Our Lady of Wisdom grade four teacher Amelia Ostick.
Each environmental action earned points. The points are earned based on how the team’s actions relate to four categories, including climate action, conservation, youth involvement, eco-impact, and community partnerships, said the Environmental Educator with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Southern Alberta Branch Vanessa Bilan.
“Ms. Osticks’ grade four class was chosen because of the exemplary efforts that the team showed. They completed the highest amount of actions and earned the highest points,” Bilan said.
In addition to doing classroom environmental initiatives, the grade fours also taught the other grades the importance of bringing reusable water bottles, utensils, and lunch containers instead of plastic.
Ostick was inspired to register her class as an Action Challenge team because her class was already doing a majority of the environmental initiatives.
“I had already done so many of these things in our class anyway, that I thought ‘Wow if we could do it and get points and perhaps win, that would be really cool,’ because we were going to be doing all to these initiatives anyways, plus my class and I are very competitive,” Ostick said.
“Many of the actions which qualify to be submitted are already being done by educators in the classroom. The topic of nature and conservation can be applied to many subjects, from science, math, art, social studies, and beyond, it is very cross-curricular,” Bilan said.
“The curriculum does have a science unit that has to do with waste in our world, and it looks on how to be more environmentally friendly and how to properly take care of natural and man-made waste,” Ostick said.
Through the Action Challenge, the grade four students not only learned about the importance of being environmentally conscious, they also learned they can have an impact at a young age.
“A nine-year-old can make an impact, it was really good for them, because at the beginning they didn’t know what they could do,” Ostick said.
“It’s important for them to learn about, because this is their world, and they are going to take over someday,” she said.
“I want them to start being leaders and being more aware of the environment for when they do get older and just give them empowerment knowing even though they are nine-years-old, they can still make an impact,” she added.
Ostick is extremely proud of her students to be recognized for all of the environmental initiatives they completed, and she is hopeful that other classes in southern Alberta will get involved with the Action Challenge.
Moving forward, Ostick is wanting to use the $500 Action Challenge grand prize for an environmental field trip to Kananaskis or Fish Creek Provincial Park.
“We have provided award-winning, high-quality educational programs to over 140,000 students. We pride ourselves on bringing the next generations of Albertans closer to nature. We look forward to awarding more Alberta Action Challenge prizes to students, teachers, and schools around Alberta,” Bilan said.
The Action Challenge registration is now open. For additional information, please visit the website at actionchallenge.ca.