George Washington Middle School Students Work to Improve the Environment
This past spring, George Washington 2 Middle School seventh-grade students in Mary Breslin's science class combined classroom learning with scientific research and community activism to help improve our local environment. Students began by identifying four projects to improve the community. All four student-planned, student-led projects coordinated with seventh-grade Standards of Learning. One group of students even applied for grants offered by Earth Force and funded by the Agrium Foundation.
The first project involved planting and maintaining a garden at George Washington. Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Visiting Science Teacher Wendy Sparrow's garden expertise proved vital as she taught students how to cultivate successfully. The second group, Ms. Breslin's seventh-period class, found that elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorous have entered the Winkler Botanical Preserve. With the support of Winkler Executive Director Jodie Smolik, students created a petition to keep new storm water from entering the preserve as part of the Beauregard Small Development Plan, and they submitted this petition to the Alexandria City Council in May. This group also presented its project at a Youth Summit at George Mason University on June 12.
Additional projects included a stream restoration at Strawberry Run near the intersection of Fort Williams Parkway, Tupelo Place and Duke Street. These students worked with Rod Simmons of the city's Natural Resources Division of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities to improve one of Alexandria's streams. A final group researched how to bring solar power to George Washington and worked with ACPS Facilities Planner Laurel Hammig to learn more about how to make this happen.
George Washington 2 seventh-grade students clearly have embraced the International Baccalaureate Programme's challenge of realizing their interdependence with the environment, becoming aware of their responsibility and taking positive, responsible action to protect the environment for the future.