Breaking News: Students Become Scientists

Breaking News: Students Become Scientists

by Mallory King -
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Last school year was certainly different than most others, with the COVID-related school closures and the new experience of distance learning being new aspects many of us experienced for the very first time. But for some schools in Baden-Württemberg and their partner state of California, 2020 also brought about new opportunities for collaboration in spite of the pandemic. 

The “Going Green – Baden- Württemberg Meets California”, organized by the German American Institutes in Baden-Württemberg, sponsored by the Baden-Württemberg Staatsministerium and with support by Teach About U.S., set out to engage students in environmental and intercultural project work and those classes who bravely participated against all obstacles did exactly that – and let our Moodle platform work in their favor. 

Two 9th-grade English classes at Hans-Thoma Gymnasium in Lörrach participated in the project together with their teacher John Gärtig. One of the students, Philipp, lets us peek into their experience through his impressive news article, about how his class went about the project. If Philip’s projects sound familiar to you, that’s probably because his school’s efforts were recognized in a blog post earlier this year, when the winners of the final projects were announced. 

Going Green has been tried and tested by thousands of students and their teachers over the past years. The curriculum was originally designed for use in the classroom, but can be implemented fully online. It is a perfect way to start a sustainability club at your school, meet students across the globe and actively apply your knowledge to make positive change in your community. If you are interested in learning more about this project, take a look at the project website or information sheet.

The Students Who Became the Scientists 

By Philipp from Hans-Thoma-Gymnasium in Lörrach

Though the Covid-19 virus has caused all schools to shut down, throughout the past few months, students in the 9th grade of the “Hans-Thoma-Gymnasium” have worked on a project called “Going Green” online. 

Going Green at Hans Thoma Gymnasium Lörrach
The students at Hans Thoma Gymnasium are among the prize winners of the first round of Going Green - Baden-Württemberg Meets California. They won a sequoia seed planting kit and reusable water bottles.

In the past few centuries, the yearly average temperature has been rising due to climate change, while there are many things being done to stop climate change, some people still are uninformed regarding climate change. 

The “Going Green” project is a school project spread throughout Germany and the United States of America to, on one side, teach the students about sustainability, the importance of sustainability and how we can maintain a sustainable environment, and also to have students learn how other countries, in this case the U.S.A, contribute to a sustainable environment.

The “Going Green” project started with the students filling out questionnaires about what your attitude towards sustainability is, and what in your opinion sustainability is or means. The students would post their answers in forums where they could discuss their findings. Next, students read an article on environmental policies in the United States, which on one side improved their knowledge on how the U.S contribute to a sustainable environment, and also improved their reading comprehension skill. In the next session, the students learned what their ecological footprint is, and what the importance of an individual is when contributing to stop climate change. During the next session, the students went a bit off topic to create a “Corona Audio Diary” in which they talked about how their life in the times of corona looks like. 

In the next class, the students did a self-reflection on what they had learned during the past few days.

Next up, the students analyzed different cartoons which demonstrate different topics. For example Plastic and Recycling, or City and Transport etc. The students then selected one out of 4 topics, which they were interested in the most. For a warm up, people in the topic “City and Transport” had to discuss in forums how they imagine a green city. Some ideas that were come up with were for example the usage of only electric cars, smart energy usage and much more.

After this, the 6 different students were divided into 2 groups with each 3 students. The task was to create a poster or a presentation that would be presented to class. Group 1 focused on what makes a city green, and group 2 focused on whether Portland, Oregon is a sustainable city. Students were supposed to communicate with each other however they wanted to, and do their own part in this presentation.

In conclusion, the “Going Green” project helped a lot in understanding how the individual, but also the group can help create a sustainable environment. I recommend it to any other schools who want their students to be well educated concerning the topic sustainability.