The Walt Disney Company has announced Christa McAuliffe School as the statewide winner of Disney Plant Challenge, a project-based learning environmental competition for classrooms across the United States. Disney Plant Challenge teaches kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet.
In their project, students at the Christa McAuliffe School in Jersey City have partnered with the Jersey City Reservoir Preservation Alliance to raise awareness of Jersey City’s Reservoir # 3 and create activities for schools and community groups who use the Reservoir as a field trip site. Students visited the reservoir and researched some of the more popular and interesting species of plants, trees, and shrubs found there. Armed with that information, students created a replica of the reservoir in their school’s hallways, a brochure to promote the reservoir, and a scavenger hunt to test visitors’ knowledge of its flora and fauna. Fourth grader Darien Minyetty said: “I had a really good time visiting the reservoir and learning about the plants that grow there. It was fun to make the reservoir in our school, and to inform all the people of Jersey City about what a great hidden treasure the reservoir is.”
Students also created a website filled with links to their research about the reservoir’s history and the plants, animals, and fish that live there, https://sites.google.com/site/projectreservoir/home. The student-created website also contains audio recordings of the student’s research and a wiki where visitors to the site can post comments and questions. Students are testing the water from the reservoir for micro-organisms, providing a real world, “living classroom” for their studies. “Our students are learning to be passionate, driven, and knowledgeable about the environment in which they live. Also, in these hard times, a place of serenity is much needed. Reservoir #3 is that place.” said teacher Maria Smagalla. The project will continue throughout the spring months and will be expanded next year.
“The vision and energy here is amazing,” said Steven Latham, President of the Reservoir Alliance. “Using scientific research, writing, art, and internet technology, students have connected with Jersey City history and nature. This groundbreaking project will be a template for creating programs with other local schools, an important Alliance goal.”
To view pictures, please go to: https://picasaweb.google.com/jcreservoir/ChristaMcAuliffeSchool28ReservoirProject?feat=directlink
For more about this story, please see “Narrative: Project Reservoir.”