Green Steps Air Quality project was our 1st project for 2016-2017.
Plants in the Classroom is a Green Steps project for protecting Air Quality. This Green Steps project has 3 components:
- Students learn something about air quality
- Do something to protect air quality
- Teach others about what they have learned about air quality
We planned this project for the West Columbia co-op–where students meet once a week to engage in learning activities. This lesson was part of the “Life Skills” class for ages 9-13. This learning co-op meets at Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church in West Columbia.
Learn: Indoor Air Quality
For the learn part of the project, our Green Steps mentors (Jane Hiller and Lauren Robinson) came to teach us how plants improve indoor air quality. The current events of forest fires in the mountains was a timely occasion to connect how the outdoor air quality was affected from the smoke all the way here in Columbia.
The primary focus of the lesson was about indoor contaminants. We learned a simple DIY cleaning solution of vinegar and orange peels that would be one way to cut down on chemical contaminants inside. And we also learned about the NASA study that found plants to be effective air cleaners.
The NASA study identifies the best plants for cleaning the air. However, the project is meant to be easy to maintain for students to do. So, we chose philodendron as the plant to be placed in each classroom. We also discussed the possibility of using the poinsettia, which would likely be thrown away after Christmas. These could alternatively be used as a good indoor air cleaners.
Do: Plants in the Classroom
Students had learned about propagating the philodendron. Utilizing recycled containers, the students placed the cut sprigs in water to sprout roots. Students placed these containers in each of the five classrooms where our cooperative learning classes meet.
The plants will be sustained in water for the remainder of the year. This is one of the goals of the project to be sustainable–and easy enough for students to complete and maintain. The plants will need very little maintenance–just a little water each week when the co-op class meets.
Teach Others: What have you learned?
The 9-13 year olds paired up to teach a few students from the Magic School Bus science class (ages 5-8). They took their plants into the classrooms where it would be placed, they were able to explain the project to our younger students.
In addition to personal explanation, we also aim to bridge relationship with the church members who attend at the location where we meet. We are there when they are not–but we care about their facility as much as they do. So, we included a note on each plant. And we created a bulletin board that explains our project too.
Read more about Green Steps Schools:
See more about REACH’s learning co-ops: