FORT HOOD — For the 12th year, environmental experts here provided an interactive Earth Day lesson for area students.
More than 900 third- through fifth-graders cycled through 25 stations, addressing the importance of keeping water and air clean and understanding the connectedness of the components of the environment.
The Fort Hood Directorate for Public Works Environmental Department hosted students from elementary schools in Killeen, Copperas Cove and Temple two days before the official Earth Day.
“We hope to empower them to lead as environmental stewards,” said Christine Luciano, DPW environmental outreach coordinator. “We want them to make greener decisions and teach their parents and peers.”
Moving through the stations with their students, teachers gave positive reviews for the interactive learning experience set in the shade of a sunny, cool spring day.
Clements/Parsons Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Sheila Grantham said the short trip to Fort Hood was a valuable lesson that will go beyond academics.
“They are learning about community involvement,” she said. “They are learning responsibility for the environment — simple things like turning the water off.”
Grantham said she noticed her students brainstorming after each station.
“After one, they said ‘We should pick up trash,’” she said. “They’re taking it to a new level. They were really into it.”
“I like that they taught us about formations,” said Clements/Parsons fourth-grader Emma Durcan, noting the stations that explained how the earth works geologically. “I liked the one about nocturnal animals. They explained why some animals stay awake at night.”
Making connections with science curriculum about natural systems, students looked over animal footprints, observed water flowing through a model of farm soil and concrete, learned to use a compass and find directions on a map and globe.
Presenters from Fort Hood DPW, along with Texas A&M University-Central Texas, the Central Texas Council of Governments, the city of Killeen and other groups demonstrated geographic information systems, or GIS, along with lessons of conservation.
“They are learning a lot about the ecosystem, how one component affects the others,” said Peebles Elementary School third-grade teacher Gelixa Rodriguez. “It aligns perfectly with the state standards we teach.”
“We’re learning how we can make the earth a better place,” said Douse Elementary School fifth-grader Travaris Turner. “We can save electricity and water. We can turn off the water when we brush our teeth and take shorter showers.”
“It’s giving the kids a hands-on approach to Earth Day,” said Clarke Elementary School third-grade teacher Kathy Brantz. “It sinks in more. Even subjects like this (solid waste disposal), they are asking questions. They are learning about keeping water clean and they are intrigued.”
Before students arrived, the event began with a Tree City USA ceremony, including a tree planting. Following a series of interactive environmental lessons, students learned about a wide array of animals from Zoomagination handler Robert Trejo and his furry and scaly friends.
“We want them to make every day Earth Day,” said Luciano, “and we know it’s important to start young.”