Water is Life: A Student-Led Forum

Students and community members assemble water catchment barrels.
Students and community members assemble DIY rainwater catchment barrels.

On Saturday, June 7, families, friends, educators, community members and students gathered at Environmental Charter School-Gardena to hear Environmental Charter High School 11th grade presentations exploring water through the lens of history, film, art, literature, & chemistry.

Building on the past success of ECHS’ annual Earth Carnival, where nearby elementary students attend a fair put on by our high school students, 11th grade teachers Naomi Tuinstra, Sara Diaz, Danielle Kelsick & Arisela Hernandez collaborated to create an interdisciplinary earth day presentation that would reach older audiences. Topics ranged from radiation poisoning in fish from the Pacific Ocean to the symbolism of water in Disney films to water privatization in Bolivia to fracking in Los Angeles, engaging participants in the complexities of water as a vital resource.

ECHS students participating in the Ocean Pollution workshop make grocery bags out of t-shirts to reduce plastics in the ocean.
ECHS students participating in the Ocean Pollution workshop make grocery bags out of t-shirts to reduce plastics in the ocean.

Students worked in groups to design their workshops and used key concepts from their core academic classes such as persuasion, thermodynamics and cross-cultural perspectives as the framework for their presentation. This project prepared students to follow steps similar to those required for their senior thesis while building on research and presentation skills that students practiced during intersession.

Green Ambassadors interns then led DIY hands-on environmental workshops such as a healthy food cooking demo, making reusable grocery bags to reduce plastic ocean pollution, handmade recycled paper, building rain barrels, and teaching basic bicycle maintenance. The South Bay Environmental Services Center provided information to participants on where to buy rain barrels, get ocean-friendly car washes and lower water use at home in order to reduce urban runoff and save water in our California drought.

10th & 12th graders presented on food deserts in South Los Angeles and farmworker exploitation and did a healthy pasta cooking demo -- delicious!
10th & 12th graders presented on food deserts in South Los Angeles and farmworker exploitation and ended with a healthy pasta cooking demo — delicious!

The event was sponsored by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board which supports the Green Ambassadors program, inspiring students to take action in their communities to address environmental issues. Thank you to all the teachers, students, community members and families that made this forum possible.

Original story posted in ECS June 2014 Newsletter — click here.

 

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