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Green in Action Semi-Finalist

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Williamsburg Preparatory High School

Brooklyn, NY

During the past four months, Williamsburg Preparatory High School's Leaders for Sustainability (LFS) club has established our school’s first garden. Our school community would benefit greatly from a National Green Week’s mini-grant to educate students on the environmental benefits of having a green space.

The Leaders for Sustainability students will create a Green Education Campaign for National Green Week. Sustainability club students will lead an education campaign using their blog, social media sites, and the school’s website to post recipes, garden updates, and links on how to get involved. Posters will remind students and teachers to contribute dried pens and markers to the TerraCycle Brigade, recycle paper, and turn off all computers, lights, and SmartBoards when not in use. 
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The National Green Week’s mini-grant will be used to buy art materials for the LFS club poster campaign, soil-testing kits for classes, and watering cans to care for classroom plants, the school garden and neighborhood trees. Five days of instruction focused on National Green Week will be held in all Living Environment classes with six classes of approximately 25 students, or 150 in total. 

Day 1: Students will identify how organisms in a compost ecosystem maintain homeostasis. They will learn the three levels of decomposition via bacteria (under a microscope), earthworms, and beetles. Students will identify and describe the role of decomposers.

Day 2: Students will study why produce grown organically is more environmentally sound than produce grown with pesticides. With a soil testing kit, students will test soil in the school’s garden for the presence of heavy metals such as lead and nutrients for healthy plant growth such as phosphorous and nitrogen. By knowing the composition of the soil, students will determine whether to replace the soil with fresh potting soil, and determine the need for compost for adding necessary soil nutrients.

Day 3: Students will study the relationship between photosynthesis and respiration. Students will use the Common Core Standards for literacy to read about the environmental impact of deforestation, the greenhouse effect, and benefits of green spaces. They will be invited to contribute to the maintenance of the school garden after school, applying their lessons through interactions with and tending of the green space.
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Days 4: As a supplement to the garden project, Trees NY has offered a two-day course on Tree Biology. Students will learn how the city selects, purchases, and plants trees for our local streets.

Day 5: Students will use a tree leaf diagram to identify trees near the school building. They will water the trees with watering cans and select a tree to adopt for the school. Students will be offered the opportunity to care for this tree once a week by joining the school’s Leaders for Sustainability club.

By the end of National Green Week, students will have experienced hands-on learning and applied their knowledge outside the classroom. Students will have a better understanding of how to care for their environment.
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