I have always loved the ocean. In elementary school, I attended a trip to the Shedd Aquarium and was absolutely mesmerized by the aquatic life on display. I still remember how I craned my neck over the side of a giant tank in hopes of getting a better look at the beluga whales. I watched in awe as an octopus changed shape and color on a whim. Then there was the moment my peers and I nearly jumped out of our skin because a simulated wave came crashing down at us!

It was during this trip that our class learned about the Great Barrier Reef. Located in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral structure in the world and considered one of our planet’s natural wonders. It’s also home to a variety of marine life, many of which are endangered species. The information I learned that day set my imagination on fire. Right then and there, I resolved that when I grew up, I would travel to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef with my own eyes!

Some Bad News…

I never would have believed that the Great Barrier Reef could simply disappear within my lifetime, yet that possibility is quickly becoming a reality. Today, the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Over half its coral population has been lost to bleaching. Climate change and pollution have devastated the delicate communities of endangered sea life. There are even scientists who predict the reef won’t last another 10 years.

Now, I usually try to avoid climbing atop my soapbox, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. Climate change is quickly becoming one of the most important issues of our day. As teachers, we need to equip our students with the right knowledge so they can become better stewards of their environment. In the past, this has meant PSAs on littering or assemblies on the value of recycling, but what if we could do more? What if we could engage students with hands-on, inquiry-based learning which motivates them to create positive change?

A Blue Apple Solution

Blue Apple Projects are a collection of project-based learning units designed to foster student curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. While each of these units cover important and timely topics, there are three in particular which can teach your students about their role in preserving our planet.

  • State of Sustainability: Every state is uniquely great. From coastlines to mountains to rolling prairies, our landscape is diverse. In this project, students will become aware of the need for a sustainable world by focusing directly on their own state’s sustainability. They will use their creativity to design a book about their state that informs readers how small changes can develop a more sustainable world. Finally, they’ll publish their book and sell it for a charitable cause.
  • What’s in Your Water?: Water is essential for life. All living things depend upon it. Yet every day, our actions contribute to pollution that is detrimental to our waterways—and ultimately our watersheds. In this project, students will take action to protect our watersheds. They will investigate water samples to determine what’s in their water and investigate ways to improve water quality. Then, they’ll share what they’ve learned by creating a fundraiser to raise money for a charity that focuses on improving water quality and water pollution issues.
  • The Dirty Truth: Life on Earth is precious and precarious. Every day, more species go extinct as our world becomes more polluted. People are fighting to make a difference—but is it enough? Or should we look to the skies to save our species? In this project, students learn about the importance of environmental protection, and about the wonders of Mars. They choose whether to support environmental protection or space exploration and create a commercial to raise money for their cause.
Our Planet

I want to stress that this isn’t some kind of veiled infomercial for Blue Apple. I truly believe these projects can play a huge role in sustaining our environment. Part of becoming responsible stewards is educating the next generation. Our students need to see just how great and fragile this big blue dot of ours truly is. When humans consider their place in the web of life, our planet doesn’t just survive, it thrives! So, take a moment and introduce your classroom to the wonders only found in nature. Show them that with the right knowledge, they can be a powerful force for good!

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*Image courtesy of BeccaCheney via Wikimedia Commons.