By Martynka Daszkiewicz, Oscar Luczaj Oliwia Kiluk; Introduction and Tina Wong, NWF Greenpoint Eco-Schools Sustainability Coach
June 2018 marked the completion of the 3rd year that the National Wildlife Federation Greenpoint Eco-Schools program has been part of PS 34’s school-wide “Green” transformation. By incorporating environmental changes and practices throughout the school’s building infrastructure, curriculum and culture, PS34 has made great strides in becoming a school that focuses on sustainability and stewardship. As the full-time Sustainability Coach, in addition to partnering with organizations, school administrators, and teachers, I get to work directly with students in various capacities; I asked a few to recount their time with me and the PS 34 Eco-Schools program. After all, it is the children who will be our driving force to a greener, more sustainable future!
Martynka Daszkiewicz, 5th-grade graduate:
My name is Martynka and I am in the 5th grade and graduate in June. I was in Green STEM Afterschool program for the last two years. Green STEM is a program that educates children to understand how to keep the world safe (recycling, how to clean the water, etc.) We do a lot of fun things and go on many field trips in Greenpoint.
Through the program, I learned that helping the Earth is really important because there are many resources that might run out at some point and we will not have it anymore. For example, our energy is mostly from fossil fuels and we can’t make more of that. Energy is needed for electricity so we need to find a new way to have power.
I feel that I have changed because I started to understand and care more about the environment/natural resources. I also am teaching my family. My mom started changing a lot more like she recycles. But my dad did not change a lot, only a little but he knows it’s important to me. I will be going to a new school next year and hope to teach my school to be green too.
Oscar Luczaj, 5th-grade graduate:
My name is Oscar Luczaj and I’ve been in Green STEM Afterschool for one year. My favorite unit was when we build water robots! Sometimes it was hard to figure out the missions and also working with my team but we learned how to.
“Even if we had to do really hard challenges and disagreed about a lot of things, it was still fun to work together as a team” ~Emily Rudzinska, 5th grade graduate
One of the missions was to build a robot that helps take out pollution in the water. We used ping pong balls to pretend they are pollution. We had to build something that was attached to the robot that takes away the ping pongs. My team’s design looked like a big robot with a shovel!
I really loved Green STEM afterschool and it taught me that I can build things to save the planet. I can design over and over again and it’s ok. It was my favorite class.
Oliwia Kiluk, 5th-grade graduate:
My green adventure started in 2015. I was in 3rd grade when I joined the first ever Green Team that Ms. Wong made because of my curiosity. It turned out to be amazing! We built bee hotels and that was one of my favorite experiences. We got to see other people’s bee hotels on the internet when I did my research. I learned about pollinators in Green STEM class with Ms. Marshall and also at Green STEM afterschool with Ms. Wong. One time, we went on a field trip to Brooklyn Botanical Garden where I saw a really really big insect hotel there.
While we had all this fun Ms. Wong was setting up the biggest show ever – The Eco-Fashion Show!“ This show is like a real fashion show, but we must make our clothing out of trash or recyclable materials. I participated in this for 2 years and I loved it!! We get to work with real models and they would help us decide what poses to do when we walk down the runway.
After practice was the best part – walking down the runway in front of cameras, photographers and many people – sometimes important people. I learned that we have so much trash that we can reuse to make beautiful things. Thank you Ms. Wong for teaching me this. You truly are a great Eco teacher. From what you taught me, I have to say that I will stay green forever 🙂
Although metrics and data are really important, at the end of the day, the most valuable lessons and biggest impact cannot be measured. These are the experiences and moments that help shape their worldview and I know it’s something they will never forget. Educating for sustainability in young children helps cultivate compassion and can empower them to make a positive change in the world in which they live, where we live. I am grateful to be part of their stories at PS34.