2016-2017 classroom offerings

The Resourceful Schools Project serves all schools within Saint Louis County, Missouri. Programs and resources are free, paid for by a voter-approved 5% surcharge on waste deposited in Saint Louis County landfills. Here are our 2016-2017 classroom offerings:

Puppet Show “How Recycling Changed My Life”
Pre-K through 3rd grade

destiny-puppetThis show covers the basics of recycling and demonstrates how recycling can dramatically reduce the amount of trash households make. The main character,Destiny,has the chore of taking out the family trash. When the family starts recycling it dramatically reduces the amount of trash that needs to be taken to the curb making Destiny’schore much easier. The show teaches the basics of recycling and features two “dreams” that include a sneaky villain, a dramatic chase scene, and flying objects. We follow the presentation with a brief Q&A. The puppet show is our most requested offering. The show is suitable for. The larger the group, the better!

Decomposer Detectives
Grades 1-3

rsp-decomposer-detectiveStudents explorea compostsample to examine the decomposition process and find members of the compost community. Even though we have offered this popular activity for years, we are always finding new creatureswe have not seen before.This presentation is slightly messy, but a completely hands-on experience. One great thing is that if presented one class at a time, everyone has his or her own compost sample to explore. Most often, teachers use this as an introduction oras a conclusion to their unit on soil or related to ecology. *Compost is only available in the spring, summer, and fall. Contact us ahead of time to make sure we have a good sample available.

Teachers: worm bin workshop
We are tentatively planning a workshop early Spring 2017 during which teachers willbuild a simple worm bin to use in the classroom, learn how to maintain one, and get ideas of how it might be used in the classroom.

Who Knows what Lurks in the Back of the Fridge?
Grades 5 and up

Who Knows what Lurks in the Back of the Fridge?Americans waste 40% of the the food we produce. Thatis a big deal.In addition to the social impacts,when landfilled,rotting food produces methane. Methane isa greenhouse gas that is 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, landfills account for 20% of all human-related methane emissions.

In this reader’s theater skit, students learn new ways to think not just about the food they eat, but what they throw away. The script is divided into sections addressing shopping, cooking, managing leftovers, and eating in restaurants and school cafeterias.

EEK! it Leaks!
Can be scaled up or down for grades 3-8
Adapted from Teach Engineering

This activity is open-ended and challengesstudents’ critical thinking skills. A landfill protects our groundwater from contaminated waste -basically, a giant bag that does not leak.

In this activity students construct a leak-proof bag using 4 strips of plastic and masking tape. The challenge is that they are only given a limited amount of tape. Students work in pairs to design, build, and test their bags. After testing to see where the leaks are, they are issued more tape to improvethedesign.

This process continues until the bag does not leak or until they run out of time. Students then discuss the difficulties they experienced and what design strategies they used to overcome them.

This activity is 100% hands-on and has been popular for science day activities and other classroom type settings. Can be scaled up or down for grades 3-8.

We Are All Connected to One Ocean
Grades 6-12

NOAA image of Great Pacific Garbage Patch from https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/movement/great-pacific-garbage-patchLitter is unsightly and a problem for those who manage our stormwater. It is also having a serious impact on ocean ecosystems.

We have teamed with the Metropolitan Sewer District in a classroom unit addressing litter and water pollution.

In the ocean, plastic breaks into tiny pieces called microplastics. These particles are a serious global problem having unknown environmental consequences.

One of the most recent and alarming discoveries is that plankton are eating microplastic particles that contain harmful chemicalsincluding PCBs. These pollutants bio-accumulate and affect the entire food chain in our oceans.

80% of plastic in the ocean comes from terrestrial sources; from the U.S. virtually all of it is litter. Our plastic ends inthe N. Atlantic Ocean gyre.

This unit is an opportunity for your students to learnhowthose simple actions, such as eliminating litter and recycling, are important in protecting ecosystems both locally and globally.

What is a Gyre?
Contrary to conventional wisdom, plastic in the ocean more closely resembles the concept of ‘smog’ than an island of garbage. Here’s why: Our sewers, storm drains and rivers act like ‘horizontal smokestacks’ that carry plastic bags, soda bottles, disposable cutlery, etc. into our oceans. A significant amount sinks to the oceanfloor or washes up on beaches throughout the world. The remaining floating plastic gets carried out to sea, where ocean currents swirl much of it into the gyres. Gyres existin every major ocean and act like giant swirling ‘blenders’ that assistsunlight in shredding plastic debris into smaller particles called microplastics. These tiny bits of plastic aremostly what you find when you go into the gyres in search of plasticpollution.”  – Matt Prindiville, Executive Director,UPSTREAM–Real Change Starts at the Source

Using the imagery from the article above, students explore “smokestacks and smog”.

Our “smog” lab activity uses the property of buoyancy/density to identify plastic resin “nurdles”. Students compare results with containers they have found at home and identify the items that could be the bits of plastic floating in the gyres.

Lab tables and access to water are required for this activity.

You can combine these activities with taking a hike to a local creek or conducting a related service project in your neighborhood.

  • Be a part of a stream cleanup. Conduct a litter patrol.
  • Construct a sculpture using the recyclables found and display at school toboost your recycling program.
  • In conjunction with the classroom component, participate in the MSD stormwater art education project. Students can paint a stormwater inlet near your school. We will provide the paint and supplies required.This is a really cool project!

For more information, please contact:

Margaret Lilly, CIG
Environmental Representative
Saint Louis County Department of Public Health
6121 North Hanley Road
Berkeley, MO 63134
(314) 615-8957 (Office) e-mail:mlilly@stlouisco.com