When community members visit Howell City Park this summer, they will be greeted by brochures created by third-grade students at Southeast Elementary. The brochures, which encourage making pollution-free choices are just one of the outcomes of a Project Based Learning unit that taught the students about community service and learned about the cause of land and water pollution. The students also created a sign discouraging littering that is displayed at the park. The project was led by third-grade teachers Jen Dittmer and Angie Tyrpak, with help from Kate Rossetter, Howell Public Schools instructional coach.
Project Based Learning combines various core academic areas into one project where students work to solve a problem. For their project, the students used science to learn about pollution and its impact on the environment and social studies to learn about the core democratic value of the common good. The students also used English Language Arts skills to write letters, researching the effects of pollution and giving presentations on their project. The project also required students to use their math skills to plan for materials needed to create litter collecting tools and creating a budget for their project. Technology was used in many ways throughout the project including creating a website, video and to collaborate with one another using Google Classroom.
During the project, the students worked with the Livingston County Department of Environmental Health and the City of Howell Department of Public Works to learn about some of the concerns and issues facing the environment in the area. This insight made the project even more meaningful to the students.
“One of the great things about Project Based Learning is that it connects all of the academic areas,” said Tyrpak. “Using math, science, social studies, technology and English Language Arts all in one project to solve a real-world problem allowed are students to see how what we are learning in our classroom is used in everyday life. It was an amazing learning journey for our kids.”
In addition to creating the brochures and sign, students also created litter collecting tools a that were donated to the city to help keep Howell City Park litter free. The students also worked with the Howell Beautification Committee to tend to a flower garden that needed some tender loving care. To help educate the public on pollution the students created a video explaining how pollution impacts wildlife and a website to help increase awareness of water pollution and its causes.