This year, SWEP's Science Festival had a new format that allowed for more in-depth exploration of climate science and created an opportunity for students to design and implement solutions to reduce their impact on the planet.
In the past, SWEP Science Festivals involved taking over the school gym with ten science booths staffed with volunteers and filled with kids moving through multiple science experiments. Students loved the hands-on science and quick pace, keeping them intrigued and excited about science. However with our ever-changing world of various regulations and restrictions, SWEP again pivoted the traditional into something workable in the current school environment.
This year, the festival involved SWEP educators visiting individual TK- 5TH grade classrooms at Truckee Elementary, Tahoe Lake Elementary, Kings Beach Elementary and Glenshire Elementary. SWEP staff shared an in-depth lesson to all students: Climate Change and Food Waste Separation.
This focused approach gave each student the chance to understand what climate change actually is, the effects and how we can all take direct action to reduce its impact through one simple step - ending food waste.
The lesson contained various elements:
An interactive experiment to explore the science of climate change.
Discussion and real-world connection to understanding the affects of climate change.
What can we do? Reduce our food waste! 40% of food produced in the US is thrown away.
We highlighted tips from older students on how to reduce the amount of food ending up in the landfill with this Flipgrid from our EcoAction Club.
Introduced composting, what it is, how it works and how they can do it from home (learn more in this How to Compost at Home snippet) and how they will/have the opportunity to separate their food waste every day at school during lunch for it to be turned into compost.
Practiced sorting lunch waste into proper bins: liquid, food waste, recycling, trash and Smart Sorting Bins.
This program was well received with lots of great feedback from students, teachers and admin. SWEP reached approximately 1,855 students across the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. More importantly, the hands-on experience fostered hope for the next generation - inspired through their own action and is a part of a larger project of supporting all TTUSD schools to separate all food waste in kitchens and cafeterias.
Larger Food Separation Project
Education: This first step included the SWEP Science Festival adaptation focusing on climate change and food waste separation. We educated students on the California state law that requires large businesses and districts to separate food waste. The law aims to reduce the disposal of organic waste by 75% by 2025, thereby reducing a major climate change contributor - methane.
Pilot: Students next get to practice what they've learned - in the lunch cafeteria - where they're asked to properly sort and dispose of leftover food waste. SWEP Green Team student members chip in to mentor their peers.
Program: The program formally becomes an ongoing component of the daily school lunch program, where the informed and empowered students can do one thing every day to help beat climate change.
SWEP would like to thank the Town of Truckee: Keep Truckee Green, Tahoe Truckee Airport District, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, and Placer County for collaborating with SWEP's food waste separation efforts and programming.