By teaching our students to think, care, and act, we empower them to build a peaceful future.

Welcome to Think, Care, Act, where teachers and students can find rationales and resources to infuse required curricula with peace, character, global, and multicultural concepts throughout the year.

To act in a world whose problems seem overwhelming requires being able to use the powers of critical and creative thinking and compassionate and inclusive care. Employing these tools, adults and youth alike can work effectively and conscientiously to solve problems big and small, global and local.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Guest Post #3: Learning, Teaching, and Working to Help the Environment: EA/UNCW Think-Care-Act Project Partnership.

Dr. Elizabeth O. Crawford and I met at the 2014 National Conference for Social Studies.  I presented a session, Change the World: Local and Global Think-Care-Act Projects, and Dr. Crawford, an education professor at University of North Carolina Wilmington, attended my session.  From our meeting arose our EA/UNCW Think-Care-Act Project Partnership. 

Through the 2014-15 school year, my current and former sixth and seventh grade students at The Episcopal Academy “taught” Dr. Crawford’s senior pre-service education majors how to think about personal qualities and talents, identify passions for social change, and act to change the world for the better.  Through Skype and shared project plans, my students and those of Dr. Crawford have inspired and encouraged each other to make a difference.  We are delighted and proud to share the TCAP work of our students, and we will present jointly at NCSS in November 2015.

For Dr. Crawford’s students, the culminating piece of the Think-Care-Act Projects was to write a guest blog post about their projects.  Below, and for the next few blog postings, you will read guest blogs from future teachers, with links for further research and teaching suggestions.  This one by Kassidy, Melissa, and Atina gives facts and strategies for helping the environment.  Happy reading and thinking, caring, and acting!—Sue Cannon

GUEST POST #3: Learning, Teaching, and Working
to Help the Environment
By Kassidy Wait, Melissa Cook, and Atina Guidetti
University of North Carolina Wilmington

We are Elementary Education majors at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. For our social studies methods course, we took part in Think-Care-Act Projects in which we chose to help the environment in some way. First, we gathered information, much as a classroom teacher and students might do when preparing to tackle environmental concerns.

Solid Waste Facts:
Did you know that every second, 12.5 pounds of waste is created in New Hanover County, North Carolina? The New Hanover County Department of Environmental Management oversees one of the State’s most advanced integrated solid waste disposal systems. The Department operates a variety of services which include a recycling drop-off collection system, a Household Hazardous Waste and electronic waste collection system, a RCRA Subtitle D landfill, Construction and Demolition Debris (C&D) diversion, and yard waste passive composting operations.  The resulting system minimizes the use of land resources consumed for burying the waste we generate, and minimizes the potential risks for contaminating the area’s delicate environment (Environmental Management, 2015).

Recycling Facts
Some facts to ponder...For every ton (2,000 pounds) of paper recycled, 17 trees are saved. It takes 90% less energy to recycle aluminum cans than making them from raw material. Everyday, U.S. papermakers recycle enough paper to fill a line of train boxcars 15 miles long.  If every individual repurposed their copy of a single edition of The New York Times, we could save 75,000 trees. The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle could operate a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. The mission of the recycling division is to reduce reliability on landfills and keep our coastal environment clean and safe for our future generations (Environmental Management, 2015). Recycling has numerous benefits, including protecting our water quality, reducing air pollution, saving needed landfill space, conserving natural resources, creating jobs, and providing industry with raw materials for new products. There are various drop-off sites located around New Hanover County. Visit the links below to learn more.
Pesticides, Plastics, and Pollution
The effect on our climate from pesticides, landfills and pollution is alarming. There are endangered animals like the honeybee. These insects pollinate much of our green life, including food-producing plants. If we keep altering our climate and continue to kill animal and plant species, the whole food chain will be altered. It is important we respect our environment and everything within it to maintain the balance on Earth.

Likewise, proper trash and waste disposal on beaches around the world has been an ongoing problem for many years. If this problem continues, marine life as well as plant life can be harmed and eventually depleted. According to recent research, approximately 8 million tons of plastic drifts into oceans around the world each year (Woodring, 2015). This waste does not include other garbage products such as paper, tin, aluminum, or metal. These waste products enter the ocean through drifting off of beaches, dropped from individuals on boats, carried by animals, or through other means such as factory pollution and runoff. Although trash enters the oceans from different sources, 80% of trash found in marine areas is from a land-based source (Woodring, 2015). When these products pollute the beach and ocean, animals and plants may be harmed. Animals may eat shiny objects and become entangled in items such as plastic rings. If the disposal of plastic and other debris continues, beach life may eventually deplete.

Plastics do not biodegrade, thus they only split into smaller fragments and drift into sandy areas (Vartan, 2014). Beaches could turn into piles of microplastics rather than miles of white sand. An organization known as the Plastic Bank strives to make plastic economically desirable so that individuals will be less likely to discard this product on locations such as beaches (Vartan, 2014). If all individuals work together to stop the disposal of plastics and other debris on beaches, many animals and plants could be saved.

Teaching for Environmental Action

Teachers can take action to encourage their students about this topic (and many others) to help them change the world. The first step of encouraging students to take action is educating them about the topic. If students do not understand the seriousness of the effects that we all have on the environment, it will be difficult for them to develop a personal interest in the matter, thus they will have no intrinsic motivation to help the earth. If the teacher introduces his or her students to a plethora of different topics, it is likely that the student(s) will find at least one area in which he or she is motivated to make a difference. From reusing and recycling to organizing community clean-ups, there are plenty of ways opportunities for students to get involved in helping the environment. Teachers can also encourage their students to take action by connecting them to a wide array of sources related to their topic, organizations at which they can volunteer or with whom they can connect, and providing them with further research videos or articles.

If each individual was educated about the damage humans have on the Earth, they may take action to protect the living things within our world. We can begin by using less. By recycling, gardening and composting, people can reduce the amount of waste in which they are contributing to the landfills. On, there are many ideas on how people can change the way they live their everyday lives to enrich their lives and all the lives around them: human and non-human.
Our Action Plans
We each took a slightly different route with our Think-Care-Act projects, but we all chose to engage in activities that benefitted our local environment; Kassidy chose to reduce her waste, Melissa chose to organize a beach sweep, and Atina chose to compost and reuse many materials. We took the pictures in this blog post while completing our projects.  Overall, we had an amazing time completing these projects, and we look forward to using this idea in our future classroom.

-- by Kassidy Wait, Melissa Cook, and Atina Guidetti, 2015


  • For more about how to do Think-Care-Act Projects with students: Read Sue Cannon's blog:
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