Bells Elementary School Green Club is doing its part to save the endangered Humboldt Penguin through the school’s fourth annual Unless Project.
The project was created nine years ago by the Philadelphia Zoo. It encourages students to create solutions for environmental issues they can relate to. This year, the club wanted to find a way to reduce plastic ocean waste.
“The kids picked a problem and they decided to do waste this year,” said Green Club Advisor Lauren Sisco. “They thought it was an important thing because we live so close to the Shore. We are responsible for keeping our part of the ocean clean.”
Sisco and co-Advisor Amy Catalano helped the kids create a form for participants to fill out across the globe. It asks people for a pledge to keep the ocean free from plastic and to give an example of how to do that. The pledge also allows participants to send in a photo or video of how they are keeping the ocean plastic free through FlipGrid, an app used by educators to create informational videos for use during virtual learning.
“The kids are excited because we have people pledging from other countries,” Sisco explained. “The FlipGrid was created in hopes of keeping the project alive and keeping people talking about it.”
In previous years, the club students could take a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo to learn about the animal they chose to help through their project. Due to COVID, the zoo tour was virtual this year.
Two years ago, the Green Club won second place in the Unless contest for a recycling center created in the school. Students are encouraged to recycle old markers, crayons, ink cartridges, phone batteries and glasses to help the environment. They also placed posters around the bins explaining why those items cannot be recycled in a normal way.
“It has been a lot of fun and a good experience for the kids,” Sisco noted. “In past years, we normally have to select kids because they get so excited. Because we were virtual this year, we had a little bit less interest.”
The Bells Elementary Green Club is open to students in grades three through five and is usually packed with about 60 students. This year, due to virtual learning, only three fifth graders joined.
“This year has been challenging as a teacher, to put it mildly, but when we get on the virtual Green Club meetings and see how excited they (students) are, we think, ‘This is what we miss, this is why we do it,’ Sisco said.
“I think it is exciting to see how passionate the kids are about it. The boys we have this year are so determined. They are passionate and driven and care about the Earth.”
For more information about the Unless contest visit https://philadelphiazoo.org/unless-contest/.
To participate in the FlipGrid visit https://flipgrid.com/fca5963f and use code: #humboldtheroes.