At an eco-assembly, participants learn about ecology and the environment through active engagement with speakers or hands-on activities. An eco-assembly that focuses on the local environment allows you to build on students' existing knowledge. Weather permitting, an outdoor assembly reinforces the environmental theme. Longer term projects can emerge from an eco-assembly such as school-wide recycling projects or a community garden.
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Ask students to create a large map of the region, if the school is near a park, field or creek. They can draw a map on large pieces of paper, working in sections and then combining the sections as a whole. Then, set up tables to serve as education stations correlated with sites on the map such as bird and insect identification stations, flower and tree identification stations, cloud identification stations, weather patterns and natural resources, such as forests for lumber or quarries for rock. For younger students, offer magnifying glasses so they can observe ants. Create a scavenger hunt of birds and clouds and other features to identify. Students can carry out the hunt in the days ahead. Older students can build nesting boxes for birds or bats or make a toad house.
An eco-assembly allows you to demonstrate ecological relationships. Have students study these relationships and then create skits to dramatise them for the assembly.
For example, have students identify their local water sources? How does the water reach homes and schools? In the skit, students can create characters from the water sources and show, through movement, how the water and waste water flow.
Other relationships to dramatise as systems include:
Garbage systems. Where does your garbage go? Some garbage is transported to other states for disposal. Track trash from school waste can to dump. How can we reduce the quantity of garbage we make?
Food sources. Where does your food come from? Look at a typical lunch. Show how many miles the food travels to reach your plate. Is it possible to grow food closer to home?
A popular assembly option is a guest speaker. First, track down a speaker. Sources of speakers include colleges (check with the science department) and local volunteer centres that maintain speakers' bureaus. When you invite the speaker, offer specific suggestions for what you would like discussed. For example, a fish biologist could focus on local fish, the history of fish in the area, and how fisheries are affected by pollution and water use. For an hour-long assembly, allocate at least 20 minutes for questions. Have students write questions ahead of time as a way for them to begin thinking about topics.
Other possible guest speakers include transportation specialists to talk about bus services and traffic patterns, utility representatives to talk about saving electricity, community activists who have created neighbourhood gardens, and volunteers who work on river clean-up projects or reforestation.
Actions to Take
Plan a daylong or after-school action-oriented assembly of workshops where students learn about an eco-activity. Draw on the expertise of teachers at your school site. For example, the auto shop class might experiment with making biodiesel or offer tips for increasing a car's fuel efficiency. A sewing club can provide a demonstration on repurposing clothes, such as making a backpack out of old blue jeans or a vest out of an old sweater. Offer recycling workshops, gardening, and letter writing to political representatives. Make the assembly cross-generational by inviting community members with special skills such as a local gardener who can teach about composting.
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