SHIPPENSBURG — Some 250 fifth-graders in the Shippensburg Area School District learned the ABCs of caring for their planet during an Earth Day program Wednesday at Shippensburg University.
Sponsored by the university’s Collegiate Middle Level Association, the event featured a variety of presentations by teacher education majors on topics such as recycling, wind, erosion, climate change, air pollution and alternate energies.
Bob Ziegenfuss, association adviser, said the goal of the program is to “make children conscious of what they do in their environment and the impact they have on their own environment. It raises awareness and helps them understand the issues. Our belief is that those issues will become even more important in the next 30 to 40 years.”
University students used a variety of demonstrations in their lessons. For instance, fifth-graders built sand castles and then blew through straws to simulate wind erosion at the beach. To learn about oil spills and their effect on the environment, the students mixed vegetable oil and water in a mason jar, then dipped a feather into the jar and tried to clean off the oil.
In another classroom, students made paper pinwheels. They attached small paper cups with string and used a hair dryer to power the pinwheel and crank up the cups.
“The hairdryer blew on the pinwheel and made it (the string attached to the cup) twirl up,” said Ben Froio, a fifth-grader at the intermediate school. “When you put the hair dryer the other way, it goes down.”
Ben said he learned that on a larger scale, wind can create enough energy to power a house.
“It’s a pinwheel that simulates a turbine,” said Jocelyn Coy, a fifth-grade teacher at the intermediate school.
“We learned about wind energy and how you can use it,” said Madilyn Heinle, a fifth-grader at the intermediate school. “It saves on your energy bill because it’s a natural resource.”
Owen Long and Jenna Cornell, fifth-graders at Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School, were impressed with what they learned about air pollution.
“We learned the causes and dangers of air pollution, and some solutions,” Jenna said.
The students said they know vehicles are a source of air pollution, but they were surprised to learn that other items like perfume and hair products also contain chemicals.
“I didn’t know when you sprayed them, they would spread all around,” Jenna said. “I was in the back of the room, and I was surprised at how fast the smell came to me.”
“I didn’t know sprays could affect air pollution,” Owen said.
Using what he’s learned, Owen said people should ride bicycles or walk instead of driving.
“Some people get in their car and drive just to get the mail,” he said.
Jenna said people shouldn’t litter, and they should pick up trash when they see it.
It wasn’t just the surface of the Earth that students studied Tuesday. They also learned about the stars beyond it.
Another fifth-grader at the intermediate school, Elijah Hafer, was particularly interested in the planetarium show.
“It was really awesome,” he said. “We learned about the constellations and how the Earth moves around the sun. I didn’t use to be able to spot constellations without the outline (chart), but now I can spot Scorpio.”
Elijah’s teacher, Jeff Root, said his class is currently studying astronomy.
“It’s one of my bigger units,” he said. “The kids really love it. This was perfect timing.”