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Elementary Students Use Citizen Science to Improve their School and Community

By: Jan Heiderer, The GLOBE Program
29 March 2018

Students can do amazing things. The students of Woodlawn Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, prove that. Using citizen science skills they acquired through participation in The GLOBE Program, an international science and education program, they began learning about the Earth System and investigating ways they could contribute to the global environment.

students making cloud observations

Woodlawn students measure precipitation from a rain gauge (credit: Dena Whipple).

These students worked outdoors: observing clouds, measuring rain, making notes of the coming and going of birds and leaves on trees, looking at salmon life cycles in Oregon, and starting a food garden. Indoors, they performed a waste audit to examine the trash and recycling habits of students and wrote to their school district to request more recycling bins and composting bins. They carried out an energy audit, replacing inefficient light bulbs, starting a “lights out” campaign, and did a cost analysis to prove that their energy reforms not only helped to save the environment but helped the school district save money as well.

There seems to be no stopping the ‘Woodlawn Wildcats’ from finding ways to impact their school and community. They began a Bike, Walk and Roll (by scooters) Campaign to get more kids to use their legs to get to school, and to do so safely. They called on the school district to move bike racks located at the edge of curbs on busy streets, to a safer location behind the school.

students making cloud observations

Students collect and analyze GLOBE cloud observations (credit: Dena Whipple).

These and other activities earned the Woodlawn Elementary School a “Green Flag” from The Eco-Schools USA program. Of the more than 5,000 U.S. schools that participate in Eco-Schools, Woodlawn School is one of 100 that have won the prestigious Green Flag for investigating their school’s environments and identifying solutions for making their schools safer and healthier.

The students tell their impressive story through a video they created. You can learn about their GLOBE Program activities at the 2:19 to 2:54 mark.

Go Wildcats! Thank you for using citizen science as a tool to help improve the world around you.