Mine is when they taught us not to run the water while we brush our teeth. I think this was in either kindergarten or preschool. We were taught that wasting water is bad and we should shut off the water when we’re not using it.
In first grade some… I guess scientists, though I’m not totally certain what their profession was (one of them I also know as a professional photographer)… came in and helped us monitor some salmon eggs that were hatched and released. There was some study of ecosystems and whatnot, and I think that was the first time the issue was really addressed.
In kindergarten there was a total eclipse. I remember making pinhole viewers and the teachers telling us we would go blind if we looked directly at it. It was my first environmental experience that was exciting, beautiful and yet made me realize that it could be dangerous. I still have a healthy respect and awe of the natural world.
I elementary school I remember for Earth Day we learned about recycle, reuse and reduce. After that I tried to start recycling at my parents house which actually did get started and is still continuing today.
In kindergarten we did a project about butterflies where we raised them from caterpillars. I remember sitting outside in a big circle and watching our teacher release the butterflies that we had all tended.
We also raised chicks from eggs. I remember it being a powerful lesson about the growth cycles of animals and treating animals gently, especially the baby ones.
I remember going on a short walking hike with my kindergarten class. Our teacher taught us how Native Americans believed in protecting and respecting the environment. She then told us a myth that a long long time ago everything used to be black and white and shades of grey, but then one day, a native american girl saw a rainbow arch over the sky and she shot at it with her bow and arrow and all of the colors fell to the earth and are now the colors we see in nature. Then our activity was to find something on our hike for every color of the rainbow.
We didn’t do anything until about third grade that I can remember, at least in terms of an active involved discussion. We talked about the O-zone layer and the rainforest and deforstation at relatively the same time.
The first memory I have has to do with Earth Day. When I was in elementary school, every year they would give us a very small pine tree that came in a plastic tube. We were then supposed to take it home, and plant them in our yards. Every year I did this, but none of my trees ever survived.
I remember when I was in elementary school, my school had a small garden in the back. My class was able to go in the back and plant some flowers with the teacher. This was my first experience that I can remember in school, and it was a positive one. It made the school look nicer and it showed us how to take care of the environment.
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