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Last year, my 2016-2017 class learned that seed balls made gardening easy, fun, and accessible. They learned that seed balls grow endangered wildflowers needed by pollinators, protect seeds from wind, birds, squirrels, and other critters, and has easy dispersal for more uniform coverage. So, they hand-rolled approximately 600 seed balls and shared them with their families and friends by putting bowls of packaged seed balls with planting directions (the “guerilla” method was the most popular to write about!) out at Open House for our entire school to take home to plant in their gardens. Many of my 2017-2018 class got to take these seed balls home as second graders and came into my third grade class at the beginning of this year not only wanting to make more seed balls, but enthusiastic to share them with the other schools close by to us. This goal came from wanting to include their friends who maybe are on the same sports teams, Girl and Boy Scout groups, or other community groups as well as their older siblings and their friends who may be at the middle school. So, my 2017-2018 class’ plan of action is to make more seed balls to not only share with our school community, but also the two elementary schools and the one middle school closest to our school campus.
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Our project seeks to create a green space where students can tend a garden. The garden would have a variety of plants, most importantly including plants native to our Southern California ecosystem. Our students will also be learning about green architecture. They will have a large part in brainstorming ideas for design as they learn more about what architectural designs will help sustain this space. Our students will be specifically learning about greywater systems. As they learn more about this technology, they will contribute to the design by coming up with ideas on how we can collect greywater from our own school to sustain plant growth. Finally, we hope to build a mini amphitheater within the green space. The green space's main function would support learning. The space would be open to the whole school for classes to take place in. It would be a zone for interdisciplinary learning to take place. A history teacher might bring their students to come learn about the history of the landscape of our very own neighborhood, while a math teacher might bring their students to learn more about ratios and the importance of keeping track of the ratios between various plant species in order to keep the native garden healthy and diverse.
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Students have already started to "take action" for the Earthbench project. The Kids for Positive Change presentations about Sharks & Sea Turtles and Parrots & Backyard Birds, taught students about the problems these species are facing, with a focus on plastic bags, bottles, pieces and straws. Students chose creating and building an Earthbench for their Classroom-Community Action Assignment! Last school year (2016/2017), 85, 4th grade students, from the Kids for Positive Change Flagship Project, started making bottle bricks (plastic bottles stuffed with plastic pieces and plastic bags). Now, 5th graders, these students, along with all of the 4th grade classes and remaining 5th grade classes (572 total) have started working on the Earthbench Project by collecting materials and bottle bricking in the classroom, in art classes, at home...even while waiting for the bus! Step by Step Action: 1.) Kids for Positive Change has been working with the school Art Teacher to design the bench. The bench will be made in the shape and likeness of a dragon, the school system's mascot (Lakeside Dragons). 2.) With the design in place, Kids for Positive Change has reached out to Earthbench.org organizers, seeking guidance on how best to construct the bench, using bottlebricks, straw, clay, sand and cement. 3.) Teachers, students and community members and the Founder of LEADERship Ashtabula County, have started to collect plastic bags, plastic pieces and bottles for the bottle bricks. 4.) Collection bins for plastics will be established in both Superior and Erie Intermediate Schools by Sept. 30th, if not sooner 5.) Students have started and will continue to make bottle bricks (the foundation of the bench) from Sept. 2017-March 2018. 6.) 4th & 5th grade students will build the bench, using the bottle bricks as a foundation, staring April 2018, with the help from an experienced builder. 7.) 6th grade students will contribute to the Earthbench, by making the teeth and spin of the dragon, out of recycled materials 8.) The Earthbench will be "unveiled" on Earth Day 2018, or in May 2018, on our Kids for Positive Change Celebration Day! 9.) The Earthbench creating, building and unveiling will be documented for the school newsletter, website and local paper, ensuring community involvement and sharing of knowledge!
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We started with a dream. Then we asked for community ideas. And now we are mid-dream! A local alternative education program has a horticulture and landscaping program, and they helped design the space and gave us ideas for plantings. The idea turned into reality when we marked off the space using t-posts, multi-colored yarn, and a measuring tape. We had help from a co-worker with a backhoe to pull up the sod in the southwest, southeast, and northeast quadrants. A farmer had some nutrient rich soil he brought for those areas. We ask for donations of seeds of any kind to plant in our space, and we received a plethora of vegetable seeds, cover crops, bedding plants, and vegetation to plant. We started planting in the northeast where the vegetables would grow because we knew those seeds would need time for germination. While we waited to see little green sprouts emerge, we used some of the bedding plants and vegetation to plant around our building. We also researched pollinator plants, bees, butterflies, and birds so we could learn what would be best to plant in the southwest quadrant. It was late in the spring so we decided to wait until the fall to actually plant the correct plants. We want to plant our native grasses in raised beds with some walkways around the beds. Our research is taking a little longer than we originally planned, so we have only built the frame for the raised beds, but haven't planted anything yet. We have constructed this space with mostly donated items: cedar logs cut down on land that was being developed for new housing serves as our border; pea gravel scooped up from an elementary school's playground when the school was getting a different type of ground cover; tree stumps for chairs; bird feeders from community friends; outdoor furniture from a local women who was moving; and, a headboard from a twin bed that was on the curb to be taken to the city landfill (we are using the headboard as a trellis for some ivy plants). The landscape and horticulture program instructor gave us a few red wigglers (worms) to start our vermiculture project. We have grown a lot of worms, and have made a vermiculture habitat as part of our overall project. Next to the vermiculture tube is our composting area where we take our fruits, vegetables, and coffee grounds every day. Even our friends in a neighboring business have been bringing their food waste for our compost pile. Inside our building we are recycling paper, metal, glass, cardboard, light bulbs, and batteries. Our dream is becoming a reality only because we have students, parents, colleagues, and other community people helping. The picket fence along the east border of our garden was painted by some college students in the summer. We've already harvested some tomatoes, okra, kale, cucumbers, watermelon, and melons. Our production is large enough yet to share with the schools, but we don't let the produce go away - we fix snacks and lunch!
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First pick up trash and other litter from the pond making it a better place for fish, turtles and more to live in. Also to pick up any lose fishing line that has been left there because it get wrapped around ducks legs which may be deadly to them.
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This project would offer a good environment while pleasing the eyes of walking traffic and providing a visual beautiful eatable in the courtyard.
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As part of our Third Grade Science Curriculum, our students observe the life cycle of painted lady butterflies from pupa to butterfly. After observing the cycle, butterflies are released. We do not have an appropriate habitat for them to flourish and nourish. Our project will research, purchase, plant and maintain the appropriate plants needed in a butterfly garden. Students involved in our 21st Century program will do this work under the supervision of their teacher.
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In a food web, everything depends on everything else. A single change can disrupt or even destroy an entire ecosystem. We learned that bee populations are in decline. Without bees to pollinate our plants, we could have a big problem on our hands. That is why our 4th grade classes have decided to work together to be at least a small part in revitalizing bee populations by building a bee sanctuary. Each class has taken on a specific role in the project, and our focus is on making the sanctuary an inviting place for students and community members to visit so they can enjoy nature and learn more about the importance of protecting pollinators. We will define paths in the sanctuary, build simple benches for seating, and create signs that help to educate visitors to the sanctuary.
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To accomplish our project we will plant more grass on the bare spots and plant flowers that need very little maintenance and water. We will also clean up the area by pulling weeds, picking up sticks and trash. Our project will make that area look nicer for people to look at and enjoy.
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I will plant native Texas flowers that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies, which will give them a safe place to eat and rest.

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