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Our trip to the Las Alturas Elementary School

by Brenna Hynes, current OTS student of the “Tropical Diseases, Environmental Change, and Human Health” Semester Program in Costa Rica

During our two-day stay at the OTS Las Alturas Biological Station we visited the local elementary school to teach the students about the importance of recycling in a fun, interactive way. We prepared for the visit by creating friendly-looking monsters out of garbage cans. Each monster was labeled with the “food” that they “eat.” For example, we had a can for organic waste, one for paper waste, another for glass waste, etc. We also printed coloring pages with different trash items for the kids to color as we talked about the importance of recycling and what types of items belong in each bin.

When we arrived at the school we worked with the kindergarteners first. We went through what each monster “eats” as they happily colored. Then, we did an activity where each student one-by-one got to pick up an item of trash that we had put in a pile on the floor and got to feed it to the monster that they thought would be most likely to “eat” the trash. When the students fed the monster the right “food” all of their classmates and all of the OTS students clapped. It was pretty cute! When that activity ended, we spread out some of our trash in a section of the school yard for the students to pick up and feed to the appropriate monster. They seemed to be really proud of themselves each time they found an item. They even found some things that were really trash items that hadn’t been left there by us for the activity.

When we finished our activity with the kindergarten group we started working with the older kids (grades 1-5). We sat in a circle and acted out a story about a kid who found trash throughout his day and had to decide which can each item belonged in. Then, we let the kids color while we talked about the importance of recycling. Afterwards, we took the kids and the monster garbage cans outside and broke the kids up into teams for a relay race. The kids first had to run to a bin with various types of trash items. Then they had to feed it to the correct monster, run back to their team and tag the next runner to do the same thing until every team member got a turn. The kids seemed to really enjoy the activity! When we asked if they wanted to go a second time there was a unanimous yes from the students.

For me, this was my favorite part of the program so far. The students at the school were so polite, eager to learn, and excited about what we were doing with them. I think that educating children is one of the best ways to make changes in society because they tend to be more curious and passionate about ways to help the world than adults are. Hopefully, they will take what they learned into adulthood and make an impact in the world.

Last Updated ( 03/28/16 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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