Hundreds of elementary school students swapped the classroom for conservation stations during Environment Day at DeSales University. The annual two-day event was held on Wednesday, April 26, and Thursday, April 27, in Billera Hall.
Approximately 750 second and third graders from 13 local schools attended the event, which teaches students about the environment through interactive presentations. The Natural Science Club started Environment Day 16 years ago as a way to bring environmental science into people’s lives. “Our whole interest was outreach,” said Dr. Francis Mayville, associate professor of chemistry. “It's been pretty successful.”
Students split up into groups and rotated around conservation stations — learning about everything from recycling and water conservation to endangered species and tropical rain forests. They even got their hands dirty learning about the different states of matter using a mixture of cornstarch and water.
The event doesn’t just benefit the children. It’s also a learning experience for the dozens of science students at DeSales who get to spend the morning and afternoon teaching. “A lot of our students don't necessarily get a chance to educate, which is great practice for them,” said Mayville. “To communicate something that they're passionate about to a younger generation is really important for their growth, as well as the kids’ growth.”
Ren Martell (above), a biology major who participated in the event for the first time, agrees. She taught the kids about sharks and also incorporated a beanbag toss for a little added fun. “The kids actually knew a lot and they showed me some new things too,” she said. “Some of them were really excited to share some facts with me. Others had really interesting questions.”
At the end of the day, Mayville hopes the kids have fun while learning to treat the environment with respect. “We kind of hope when they leave, the positiveness our students give them is something they take with them and they say, ‘the environment is something that's really important to me.’”
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