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My group brainstormed ways to help people, animals and the environment. In the area of environment, we chose to try to help curb pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The point and non-point sources of pollution affect not only humans but the wildlife that depend on the Bay and the watershed around it. One source of pollution is run-off from roofs, parking lots, and other man-made structures into the watershed. We found downspouts at our school where so much water came out that the ground doesn't have time to filter it. A raingarden provides soil and natural plants to slow the water, allowing it to percolate down into soil rather than taking the topsoil and rushing it into the Magothy River. The students planned and built the raingarden.
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For the second year, we have made "Happy Socks" for homeless cats in our area. Happy Socks are old un-matched socks we have collected, that we stuff with organic catnip and polyester fill. Of course we wash them well before being stuffed and if necessary mend any large holes. This year we made about 75 'Happy Socks' which we distributed to several local shelters and pet clinics that adopt out cats. This is a easy and fun project that really does make a difference for the more unfortunate cats in our local area that are in need of homes.
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Every year we study the message of Peace found in the story of "Sadako and the Thousand Cranes". In addition, we learned how to fold the Origami Peace Crane and set forth to fold several thousand of them to send to Hiroshima, Japan. Each year we send at least 2,000 colorful cranes, just like children all over the world do. Whenever we find the opportunity we share the story and art of folding with others. An Origami Crane Club meets every week at our school. The club learns the story, folds cranes, and explores the fascinating art of origami (birds, frogs, flowers, boxes, geometric shapes, and unit constructions). We average 35 students every week!
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Every year we make enrichment toys for chimpanzees at Chimp, Inc., a local chimp sanctuary located in Bend, OR. The best received "toy" is our edible necklaces. These are made of a wide variety of dried fruit and cheerios that we string on yarn to make necklaces. This year we made about 50 yummy necklaces. This year, we received a video of the chimps receiving and enjoying our gifts. It was wonderful to see how much they enjoy them. Each chimps personality came through- some of them ate only fruit, some only cheerios, some of them hoarded handfuls, and others carefully wore them and nibbled over time. It feels great to do something for these wonderful members of the animal world.
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This year for Valentine's Day, we made pop-up cards for local elderly friends. Three members went to 2 local senior citizen homes. Here are some thoughts they share about their experience: "Almost everyday we made cards... when we told our Roots&Shoots group about it they wanted to get involved." Before we knew it, our box was full and it was Valentine's Day. We made arrangements with two local homes to deliver our cards during dinner time. We were excited and a little bit nervous until we gave out our first card to a nice little old lady. She was so excited! It was so much fun. It was obvious that these little cards were bringing much joy. We think we even saw a tear or two. Tears of joy. How proud we felt to know we all helped make this world a better place, even for a little while. We are inspired to make this an annual event. This was definitely a heartfelt Valentine's Day to remember.
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President's Day weekend 2007 Earthsavers Roots & Shoots participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count in conjunction with the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In our own backyards, members counted birds for 1-3 days at 15 min intervals and reported our findings to the GBBC website. This data was compiled throughout North America. The weekend before this event we attended an informational session at the Fanwood Nature Center and did some birdwatching and made biodegradable bird feeders.
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Our local homeschool, Mariposa County Independent Learning School, just started a journalism class last month. The children meet 2 hours a week and are having a great time writing. Their teacher was looking for other writing opportunities for the kids and happened upon a writing opportunity through the local S.P.C.A. The kids can go out to the shelter, take pictures of the animals and do a write up on each animal. The local newspaper will then print their reports free of charge (since it is an educational project) and hopefully save the dog or cat.
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We show videos about the fact that some African people cannot access clean and safe water.
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This is a great way for students of all ages to get to know Dr. Jane. Students conduct a lab research about Dr. Goodall (enhances technology skills) in order to learn about her and her work. They need to find at least three reputable web pages, read them, select information and write a reaction paper about what they learned. To complement the project, they participated in word searches and in the "Dr. Jane Game". After they create a big circle, each student needs to say a word related to Dr. Goodall's life and work (Ex. chimpanzees, Gombe, primatologist, etc.) but the third student in line or any other multiple of three needs to say "Beep" instead of saying a word. The winner received a prize and to conclude the project we had a movie day with pop corn and vegan cookies and watched the video "My Life with the Chimpanzees" produced by the National Geographic Society.
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Even though my students were already familiar with the R & S Program, we did this mini project in order to enhance the importance and relevancy of being members. Students conducted a computer research of the R & S web page and were asked to do the following activities: Interpret the R & S logo and create an alternative logo. (Enhances art skills) and Read the R & S poem created by Dr. Jane and create a new one considering the main goals of the program. The project ended with a presentation by Ms. Renee Gunther, Educational Regional Consultant, who came to visit our class.

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