Here’s a story from last March about the work of two Tolt Middle School teachers and the project they developed to help their students learn about household hazardous products. The teachers, Teresa O’Shea and Carol Hall, were nominated for and were selected as 2015 Earth Heroes at School. Nominate someone as an Earth Hero at School by March 11, 2016.
Tolt Middle School Students Teach Families about Hazardous Products
What good is knowledge if it isn’t shared, especially if that knowledge can improve the health and safety of families and benefit the environment? Such was the thinking behind the organizers of Student-Directed Family Night at Tolt Middle School in December 2014 at which one hundred and sixty sixth-grade students taught their parents how to identify common household hazardous products and strategies for making safer product choices.
King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson started off the evening with an introduction to the topic of household hazardous products and waste. Then students presented their findings from their research. Parents completed an evaluation form and in return received a natural cleaner the students had created in class. Absent students completed their presentations at home and submitted the evaluation form with a parent signature. Since these presentations, parents and students have reported making safer choices in their homes.
Teachers Teresa O’Shea and Carol Hall developed this unit after attending the Hazards on the Homefront teacher training in August 2014 and receiving a mini-grant to cover the project expenses. Concerned about students’ daily contact with household hazardous products and realizing the importance of gaining skills to manage this exposure, Teresa and Carol planned a series of lessons that supported the Human Impacts on Earth Systems core idea of the Next Generation Science Standards.
They kicked off their unit with a presentation from the Hazards on the Homefront program that taught students label-reading skills to identify and classify hazardous products. Students then performed three activities.
- They designed their own product labels that accurately reflected the hazards and precautions of a product.
- They researched recipes for green cleaning.
- They developed a speech to convey the information they learned to family members.
Students demonstrated deep understanding of the concepts by teaching their parents what they had learned. The evaluation feedback indicated that parents enjoyed learning from their students and that students grew academically as a result of this project. Their efforts have resulted in choices that will have long-term impacts on their health and safety.