Sixth-graders at Preston Middle School are gaining a global perspective as they work on an environmental issue with students in another part of the world.
“I’ve learned how different it is in other places around the world,” said Emily Hunnicut, sixth-grader. “And that you can’t just think “it’s not my problem” or “somebody else can help” because it is really important and we need to help!”
Fourteen sixth-graders at Preston have teamed up with students in the Little Children of the Philippines orphanage to work on a problem in the orphanage’s community, where a typhoon hit last fall. This year Preston and Philippine students have been corresponding with each other via live video webcam and flip movies as they consider solutions to a deforestation problem caused by the typhoon, illegal logging, and the overpopulation of people who cut down trees to build their houses.
“They are considering anything that will solve or lessen the deforestation problem,” said Tracey Winey, Preston media specialist, who is working with the sixth-graders on the project.
Winey said the students are considering several possible innovative solutions, including planting more trees and monitoring them in a cost-effective way. The students eventually hope to agree on a feasible solution soon that will be adopted by the Philippine community.
“They believe what they’re doing at school is making a difference and making the world a better place,” Winey said. “By working together they are coming up with solutions. Through technology our kids have come together to make the world a better place. It’s been really powerful.”
Preston’s relationship with the Philippine orphanage began during the 2010-11 school year, before the typhoon occurred. Through a service-learning project, Preston raised $1,000 for the orphanage, allowing them to purchase a classroom set of books, uniforms and other school supplies. The students also participated in a joint book club, reading and discussing the book “Holes.”
Winey said the students have learned surprising things about each other while working together.
“They were surprised that the Preston kids weren’t all blond,” she said. “The Preston students learned that despite many cultural differences, there were more similarities.”
Preston sixth-graders shared what they’ve learned from the experience:
“I have learned that deforestation is a real problem and no idea is too small,” said Stephanie Morita “That sixth-graders can come up with ideas that could make a huge difference in a whole other country! I like this class because it takes learning to a whole new level with a real problem.”
“I think people are starting to think more about money than the Earth. Coming into this class I had no idea what deforestation was and that it was such a serious problem. I have learned a lot about it and solutions to the problem,” said Emma Blandford.
Avinach Chaurasia shared, “I have learned about synergy, which made our project possible! I really enjoy this class. I like to help with a real-life problem.”
“I learned how to work together as a team with not only my classmates, but the Philippine kids, mentors and volunteers,” said Jaelin Howell. “I like that we are actually helping some people. People care about what we are doing in this class.”