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Fourth Grade Students in the BKS Explorers' Club Projects Goals: 1) Become environmental caretakers of sailors' Home Pond 2) Observe animal adaptation at the pond 3) Remove trash from the Pond 4) Rake the leaves around the pond and outside the fenced in area 5) Monitor the health of the pond by maintaining a web site showing the pH levels of the pond since 2003 and 6) Visit the Trailside Museum for a presentation about animal adaptations
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We made flyers and put them in neighborhood mail boxes to warn people that if they use rat or mouse poison, they may be accidentally harming pets and wildlife because when poisoned rodents are eaten, the poison can also harm or kill the animals or bird that eats them. One of our dogs almost died because of this.
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We helped the Park Service restore a local trail head. This is an ongoing project. We removed nonnative mustard and planted and mulched native plants. We're very proud of the progress we've made, and we hope a fire doesn't destroy our efforts. We will water the plants through the summer because of the drought, and resume planting in the fall.
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Ph.D. candidate chemistry students from the Center for Green Chemistry at UMass/Lowell visited Mrs Toscano's class and did a green chemistry project with one of the classes. The topic was "Why dilution is not the solution to pollution," and it demonstrated why diluting salty water does not remove the salt. Even when you can't detect the salt, it is still there. They emphasized that even minute quantities of toxins are bad, so diluting them does not remove them from the environment but in fact can spread then to impact more areas. Some of the children were impressed to learn that our graduate students are in 20th grade!
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Environmental habitat study is our ongoing project. The teachers have incorporated environmental lessons into class and our Roots & Shoots lessons have included: discussing elements of habitats (food, shelter, and water plus a place to raise young) then drawing elements and creating murals; exploring a composting worm bin, including digging around to see what was happening and learning about decomposition; exploring the school yard to determine what elements of habitat we have there for food, shelter, and water and assessing our schoolyard habitat to register it with the National Wildlife Federation. Our lessons about native endangered turtles focused on their habitat needs.
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Earth Savers met at the park to discuss the pros and cons of using paper vs plastic bags to bring home shopping items. We then discussed how much better it is for the Earth to reusable cloth bags. Each participant brought their own canvas bag(s) and we colored them with regular crayons. Participants were given instructions on how to make their designs permanent by ironing them with parchment paper when they returned home. We also signed "pledge to pack" forms, agreeing to bring our own bags with us to the store.
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During the week of May 13, Earth Savers invited our members to once again try to go without electricity and/or other forms of energy for one day. We met on May 22 and discussed our experiences. This was our second energy-free week and many members found it more difficult to participate this time around because of our busy schedules this spring. Some people were able to commit to parts of the day instead of the whole day and others made the project an energy awareness week, discussing differences that can be made on a daily basis to decrease energy dependence. Those that were not able to participate in any capacity discussed their difficulties and got suggestions from other members on how to make it happen next time. Again, it was an eye-opening experience to really take stock of our dependence on energy in our daily lives.
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We watched a movie to learn about native turtles, why many are endangered and what their habitat requirements are. We also had a visit from a biologist who is an expert on turtles and he brought turtles for us to see! This project taught us about environmental awareness and tied into our lessons on habitats.
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Our group used the Roots & Shoots EcoTeam curriculum as part of our study on pollution. The group made and tested cleansers made from oil soap, baking soda, vinegar and salt. The cleansers were put in clearly labeled recycled containers and delivered with recipes, so families could make more on their own. This is the third year the group has done this project.
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Our participation was requested at the annual Forest Grove Children's Fair. This event was held on May 12th, at Pacific University. The primary focus of the fair is a celebration of children and a showcase of organizations that serve children. Even though the age focus is younger than our group, we had a wonderful time! We led a parade through town with our Giant Peace Dove, then ran a booth, sharing the Roots & Shoots program and teaching the folding of "Peace Cranes" & other origami projects. This has become a yearly event for us. Great outreach and great fun!

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