Thursday, May 9, 2013

The end is near ... and that's good!

May 9 – The first annual Eco-Footprint Challenge nears its end over the next five days as our school teams make presentations to a team of judges. Luckily, no one will be "fired" or voted off the show!

Instead, our students and teachers will hope to win recognition for what they've learned as they make our schools a little gentler on the environment.
Our website,, has captured some of that learning. You can find the latest progress reports on the homepage. Each school page has all of the weekly reports, plus blogs, videos and many photos.
Kindergartners at Whitewater Academy stir compost
I particularly love the photos I have received or taken as I visit the schools. So many students are smiling and involved. At Catawba Heights Elementary last week, students poured leftover lunch food into a composting bin and told me how they can't wait to come back in the fall to gather the compost. You see, the children making the compost are second graders. When they return as third graders, they get to work in the school vegetable gardens. And all of this new compost will make their vegetables even better!
Talk about learning that is relevant right now.
I will meet today with another team, sixth graders at Mountain Island Charter School. They set out to convince their classmates to use less disposable plastic in their daily lunches. I hear that the students are disappointed in their results. I woke up this morning thinking about what I'll tell them - or perhaps what I will help them recognize on their own. They actually chose the toughest project of all six teams, because while the other teams are all doing things to make a difference, the Mountain Island Charter sixth graders attempted to convince others to take a stand for a better world.
And we all know how hard it is to get others to change how they do things.
Hopefully the students will also come to see that their "failure" is just as important as the success they had hoped to achieve. There's a story told about Thomas Edison that probably is more myth than truth, but it's a good story with a good lesson. It goes like this.
A reporter visited Edison at his lab as he worked to make the first electric light. Edison was on his 41st version of the light with no success. The reporter asked Edison how he could keep going after having 40 failures.
Edison replied: " I have not had 40 failures. I have discovered 40 ways not to make a light bulb." What important science, math and life lessons have our students learned this year?
– Rich Haag, Catawba River District

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