Columbia Public Schools Promote Environmental Awareness

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COLUMBIA - As a part of Earth Hour activities, students in Columbia Public Schools will plant young sapling trees around the district.

District coordinator Mike Szydlowski said 1,000 trees were distributed to students at no cost. The students were instructed to maintain their plants and analyze the length of the growing season. Szydlowski said the growing season has increased by 10 to 20 days depending on the type of tree. The goal for these students is to record when the first bud burst and when the last leaf fell as a way to encourage students to care for the Earth.

"We are trying to make it more relevant, not just here's a tree, but here's the learning behind what you're doing," Szydlowski said.

This project mirrors other green initiatives Columbia Public Schools have implemented. Grant Elementary's eco schoolhouse is one example. After a fire destroyed the inside trailer in 2007, the community came together to build a one room schoolhouse that exemplified sustainable design.

According to 5th grade teacher, John Nies, the schoolhouse is now a place where students are not only learning about sustainability and the environment but also teaching others about it.

"We learn from the building and then we teach others in the community about sustainable design. And we use the building itself through science, and math, and literacy activities to learn more about the environment and ecology," Nies said.

These ideas also reflect the science taught throughout Columbia Public Schools.

"The students will study how have we adversely or positively affected the environment and unfortunately it's mostly adversely. So what can we do to make it as better as we, as good as we can get it," Szydlowski said.

In the fall Szydlowski said the district will remind the students to record when the first leaf falls from the tree they planted for Earth Hour.