Nominate an Earth Hero at School
Is your school or someone at your school an Earth Hero? The Earth Heroes at School Program celebrates King County students, teachers, staff, and volunteers who carry out projects at their school or beyond to protect our environment.
Nominate an Earth Hero at School in one of the following categories:
- Waste reduction, reuse, or recycling
- Food waste prevention or food waste collection for composting
- Household hazardous waste prevention or management
- Sustainable gardening, landscaping, or building
- Climate change education or greenhouse gas emissions reduction
Nominations are due March 11, 2016.
Elementary Green Team news
With advisor Tina Killen, the fifth- and sixth-grade Green Team at Cottage Lake Elementary has been tackling a variety of resource conservation projects. In addition to creating posters, school-wide announcements, and classroom presentations about recycling, the Green Team collects the recycling each week. The team made and distributed to each classroom GOOS (good on one side) reuse boxes and energy saver reminders. Their next project is to post “no idling” signs for student pick-up areas.
The Ridgecrest Elementary Green Team consists of sixty-four members in grades two through six. Led by teacher Mary Rae, members monitor their lunchroom recycling program and ensure that unneeded computer cords and adapters are taken to a proper recycling center rather than being thrown away. They also created GOOS bins for each classroom.
Shadow Lake Elementary School’s 75-member, multi-grade Green Team, led by teachers Sue Chase and Liz White, promotes the school’s recycling and composting program. Students write and share morning announcements and posters in all buildings and monitor lunchtime bin use to help students dispose of items correctly. They also have created helpful PowerPoints that are shown at lunch about proper placement of school lunch items and items brought from home. The Green Team also conducts a breakfast composting program, Terracycle collection, and USAgain collection. It also participates in the Tahoma Schools People Power Planet program that helps the community save money through more informed energy use.
Every week, Jennifer Gjurasic’s fourth- and fifth-grade Green Team at Snoqualmie Elementary conducts Waste Free Wednesdays. The students announce a reminder on Tuesday afternoon; on Wednesday they monitor lunch waste sorting stations and with their Earth Hero RECYCLO hand out prizes to participating students. The Green Team has noted increased student awareness of how to pack a school lunch with waste reduction in mind as a result of Waste Free Wednesdays. With students in Robin Rosenquist’s class, the Green Team built two new worm bins to teach other classes about vermicomposting. The Green Team is also launching an energy conservation program this winter; they’ll monitor current practices for two weeks and then present the data to the school with recommendations on conservation. Teachers will assign an energy monitor in each classroom and the Green Team will document changes in energy consumption.
Secondary Green Team news
The Astroboats, an Eastside Lego FIRST Robotics team and their coach, Rajesh Dave, designed a program to divert nonrechargeable batteries from the landfill as part of the FLL Trash Trek Challenge. The elementary and middle school students created Trash Tank, a fun and informative presentation based on a popular television show to promote their design. A Green Team specialist worked with the team to brainstorm ideas and methodologies. She also provided feedback on their final product.
Teacher Angie Erdman and student Shai Johnson-Anderson of Big Picture High School created a Green Team elective that organizes students to reach conservation goals. The students determined the greatest need was to inform and inspire others students about recycling properly. After participating in a Let’s Talk Trash workshop, the Green Team used the information to create 3D posters that show what can and cannot be recycled. The team also discussed what students care and worry about and what they find inspiring. They are using the formula “inspiration + understanding + a conservation challenge = a successful waste reduction project” to drive their actions for the rest of the school year.
The Green Team at Holy Family in Auburn, with support from advisor Theresa Piper, created a classroom worm bin for their flower gardens and then built four more for the elementary classrooms. The eighth-grade members taught the younger students about recycling and garbage and how they can help with composting in the classroom. They also researched ways to reduce electronic waste and have started collecting electronic cords and old cell phones for recycling. They also promote Waste Free Wednesdays and reuse bins in the classroom.
The environmental club at Lindbergh High School, advised by Gerald Kovacs, started out the school year by improving their recycling program. With support from the King County Green Schools Program, members conducted an extensive educational campaign that included workshops for the whole school on what to recycle, container placement in high-traffic areas, instructional posters, and daily announcements to remind students and staff to recycle. The club’s follow-up assessment showed a dramatic increase in recycling and decrease in garbage. The club also has built planter boxes to be used for the culinary program.
High School Envirothon Competition
The Envirothon is an environmental problem-solving competition for high school students in the United States and Canada. Teams train for and compete in five subject areas: Soils and Land Use, Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife, and Invasive Species. The King Conservation District is offering trainings in February and March for both adult leaders and student competitors interested in the Envirothon. Interested teachers or group advisors can email Emily Carlson or call her at 425-282-1930 for more information or to sign up.
Here are the student trainings that are offered:
- February 20: Introduction to Aquatic Ecology with Andy Loch, Surface Water Program Manager for the City of Bothell (Renton Public Library, 11am – 1pm)
- March 19: Washington Wildlife Identification with the Slater Museum of Natural History (Slater Museum in Tacoma, 11am – 1pm)
- March 26: Introduction to Invasive Species with Sasha Shaw, Education Specialist for King County Noxious Weed Control Program (White Center Public Library, 11:30am – 1:30pm)
All students are invited, but are encouraged to preregister as space is limited.
Does your secondary school have a science laboratory?
If so, you must have a site-specific secondary school chemical hygiene plan. Download this customizable template (PDF, Word), designed for secondary schools. Fill out the first two pages and then train staff on the components of your plan. You will be well on your way to being compliant with federal and state laboratory safety requirements. If you have questions about the chemical hygiene plan or about future School Chemical Safety workshops, email Dave Waddell or call him at 206-263-1673.
How to make chemistry classroom demonstrations and experiments safer
Due to recent fires and other accidents in the classroom, the American Chemical Society and other organizations have recently created several resources to improve safety in the chemistry classroom. A recent article in Chemical and Engineering News provides lab examples and safety suggestions as well as links to free articles, videos, and webinars for teachers.
National Healthy Schools Day
National Healthy Schools Day is on April 5, 2016. The annual event focuses on children’s environmental health and safe school environments. Find information and resources at the Healthy Schools Network.
Classroom Cleaning Tips for Teachers
If you’re a teacher who likes to do additional classroom cleaning beyond what the janitorial staff does, here’s a list of classroom cleaning tips from the Washington State Department of Health. Know the concerns about using disinfecting wipes. Learn why it’s important to use fragrance-free soaps. Is there a problem with bringing cleaning products from home into the classroom? Get answers online or in this easily printable format.
Program changes in the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County
The Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County is undergoing programmatic changes. Beginning in 2016, the program is taking a new approach to providing services to the county’s two million residents and 60,000 small businesses. The guiding principles of this approach include increasing the reach, impact, and equity of services for reducing the health and environmental impacts of hazardous waste. Several programs will be discontinued to reflect this shift in focus. As a result, teacher trainings will no longer be available. Classroom presentations will be offered through the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Online resources will still be available to teachers interested in teaching about the health and environmental effects of household hazardous products and waste. Questions or comments may be directed to LHWMP staff Donna Miscolta.
Climate education resources
Facing the Future offers both middle school and high school versions of Climate Change: Connections and Solutions in which students are inspired to think critically about climate change and collaborate to devise solutions. Lessons invite them to analyze carbon dioxide trends and the impacts of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on living things. In a culminating activity, students work together to create an energy policy for a cool future. Each guide can be downloaded for $2.99.
PBS LearningMedia™ has created a collection of climate education resources for grades K-12. Free materials include presentations and videos targeted to specific grade levels that can easily be integrated into the classroom.
Download a new report from the University of Washington that looks at expected climate impacts on the Puget Sound region. State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound details changes in key factors that shape our local environment and implications for ecosystems, wildlife, people, and infrastructure.
The World Advanced Vehicle Expedition is looking for schools to participate in an easy way to show support for an international climate campaign and be part of a Guinness World Record attempt. WAVE is inviting students in coastal cities to write a climate commitment card to the United Nations and the leaders of the world. Owners of electric vehicles in Seattle will pick up the commitment cards from schools. Cards will be part of a giant mosaic and will also be posted online. Find details and teaching resources on the WAVE website.
Earth Day 2016
The theme for this year’s Earth Day is Trees for the Earth. The Earth Day Network has announced a plan to plant 7.8 billion trees, one tree for every person on the planet, by Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020. Planting trees is an important way to fight climate change and pollution and to protect biodiversity. Find resources and register your Earth Day 2016 event on their website.
Greening Our Schools
King County Green Schools Recognized in February 2016
The schools listed below were recognized in February for completing Green School actions.
These three schools were recognized as Level Four Sustaining Green Schools 2015-16.
- Endeavour Elementary School (Issaquah School District)
- Lakeridge Elementary School (Mercer Island School District)
- The Overlake School (private school, Redmond)
Sustaining Green School recognition can be achieved each school year that a school meets the criteria. Level Three Green Schools that maintain Level One (waste reduction and recycling), Level Two (energy conservation), and Level Three (water conservation and pollution prevention) practices and add one more Green School action or educational strategy will be recognized as a Level Four Sustaining Green School.
This school was recognized as a Level Two Green School for maintaining its waste reduction and recycling practices and engaging in energy conservation education and actions.
- Maywood Middle School (Issaquah School District)
These two schools were recognized as Level One Green Schools for their waste reduction and recycling practices and education.
- Juanita High School (Lake Washington School District)
- Meadow Crest Early Learning Center (Renton School District)
Second- and third-grade Eco Team members showcase Echo Lake’s water conservation posters and pledges.
As of this month, 230 schools are participating in the King County Green Schools Program. Since 2008
- 201 schools have been recognized as Level One Green Schools.
- 115 schools have been recognized as Level Two Green Schools.
- 83 have been recognized as Level Three Green Schools.
- 28 schools have been recognized as Level Four Sustaining Green Schools.
For more information, visit the King County Green Schools Program, or contact Dale Alekel, program manager, 206-477-5267.