In most cases I try to keep the content on this blog pretty tightly concentrated around my observations on innovative digital media. However, in this case, I’m going to have to go off topic. I think you’ll agree it’s a worthy topic. This is an example of how grassroots movements begin at the most simple levels.
Huge caveat: This example is from my mom’s first grade class. I’m biased because I think she is a brilliant teacher. Read on and you’ll see what I mean. Everything here was completely driven by her 6 and 7 year olds. These truly are our country’s future leaders…
We Have A Hairy Idea!
What we love about being first grade teachers is you never know what you are going to learn when you start the day! You never know what direction one idea will take you! On Tuesday, as we were lining up after lunch, we had a first grader share a discussion that he and his family had concerning the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. All the first graders were very concerned about what they could do.
We made a list of ideas on how to raise money in support of the cleanup efforts needed. It was a great list made up totally by first graders! Some ideas include: reading to younger children $1, machine sale $0.50, bird walks $0.05 a mile, and toy sale $ 2.00. Making shell jewelry $1, readers’ theater productions $0.50 and selling tickets to our bird shadow puppet show at $0.75– just to name a few. We thought these were some good ideas but things didn’t end there.
The first graders decided that this is something we can do right away.
The next day the same first grader had a presentation with more information on how the oil spill happened, why the oil was still coming out into the ocean and what the scientist were trying to do to stop the oil from coming out. From that presentation more and more questions were asked. Does the pipe that is in the ocean go straight to the gas stations or does it go up on the platform? Have they tried putting a lid on the pipe? How do you get the pipe into the ocean and how deep does the pipe go? We had to find out the answers to questions so we contacted our very own Upper School math teacher, Jim Moser, who is a trained engineer and worked on an oil rig based in Texas. He used to drill for oil so, of course, he was able to explain how they drill for oil, how the pipes are put in the ground and how they find out where the oil is.
Meanwhile, we had been experimenting with cups of water and some of our home-cooking oil. We placed some feathers into our water cups and saw the differences between feathers when in water with oil and when in water without oil.
Now that we had all this information we were still thinking what we could do to help!
Then we read about a group that had an easy way that is really helping the people that live by the coast. They found out that hair put into nylon bags creates a stopgap between the coast line and the oil that is coming in. The first graders decided that this is something we can do right away. We have asked a local salon to give us their hair and if any first grader or family and friends are getting a haircut, just send in the hair to us!
We will be sending the hair twice– once on Monday May 10th and the second time the following Thursday May 20th.
You are also welcome to send in old nylons. (The hair will be stuffed into the nylons and fishermen are placing the floating nylons to serve as a barrier reef.) It’s fine if they have small runs. We all thought that getting haircuts or just a simple trim and collecting the hair was something we all could do and would be easy! Also, as a family, if you want to you can also go online and buy Dawn dishwashing liquid and $1.00 of the purchase will go to help the oil spill cleanup.
We have all had a great time with our spontaneous learning! We loved finding experts to come in and doing our own research on this world topic. We have learned where in the world the oil is and who in the world it could effect. We have learned about the impact it could have on our oceans and why we want to help clean it up. We have learned how scientists solve problems. We have learned how an engineer finds oil and how they drill and put the pipes in the ground. So much learning! Now you can see why it’s so exciting to be a first grade teacher!
If you want to support this ingenious first grade effort, you can reach them at Principia Lower School, First Grade, 13201 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO, 63131