Channing Hall fifth-graders take action to improve community
Channing Hall students Bryn Frohman, Emily Moss, Katie Brown and Olivia Lingwall presented their research that invasive plants not only took over native plants, but can also be harmful to the environment and life at their fifth-grade exhibition. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Reaching out to refugees to help them rebuild their lives; preserving clean air to benefit humans and animals; addressing the challenges for the homeless to access healthy food; feeding declining bee population that affects the environment and plant growth — these are some of the issues Channing Hall fifth-graders identified and came together to decide how to improve.
“This is our culminating PYP (Primary Years Program) experience where they put all the skills they’ve learned together,” said fifth-grade teacher Lisa Moon. “They choose one project they’re passionate about and together in small groups, they come up with their thesis, how they’re going to approach their topic, and they take action. It replicates a real-world application.”
PYP, part of Channing Hall’s international baccalaureate program, stresses students to ask challenging questions, to reflect critically, to develop research skills and to learn how to learn. Students also reach out to help their community and beyond, finding ways to bring service. The school also encourages students to lead their own education. Students are being guided by teachers, but students work hard as they are motivated to show what they know.
“We find if it’s something they care about themselves, they want to do it more and have a deeper passion for it than if it’s assigned,” Moon said.
The two-month project began in January when they narrowed down ideas the group could research both in person as well as online and in books. Then, after identifying an issue, groups wrote research papers, prepared trifolds and put together a creative piece to go along with their presentation. Students also showed how they were taking action to make a difference in their community.
“We wanted the students to reach outside and see what they could do beyond looking at a computer screen. We wanted to see a lot of great skills come into play for these kids,” she said.
Their final accumulation was the exhibition day on March 10, where other students and the community could look at their in-depth comprehensive inquiries and the impacts they made.
A team of fifth-grade girls — Anya Hatch, Abby Holland, Sage Jenson and Claire Pesci — realized that many people didn’t know what was involved in adopting a pet.
“They think the pet is cute, but they aren’t very prepared,” Abby said.
After touring the Humane Society of Utah and conducting interviews, the group decided on making a video to help prepare future owners by addressing issues such as making sure they knew the pets need food, water, exercise, veterinary care, love and other things like toys or a litter box. They also cautioned future owners about how some household plants can be harmful to pets.
“The video can teach people about ownership and reach more audiences easier,” Claire said.
Sage said that their goal is to educate the future owners.
“I didn’t know lots of pets are returned to shelters,” she said. “People have forever homes so pets should too.”
Anya said educating those who want to adopt a pet should help them prepare for ownership.
“People don’t realize that a shelter is not much of a home for a dog or for any pet,” she said.
Nearby, another group of four girls — Katie Brown, Bryn Frohman, Olivia Lingwall and Emily Moss — learned through research and talking to a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden that invasive plants not only take over native plants, but can be harmful to the environment and life.
Their solution: creating 130 educational brochures about invasive plants in the area and distributing them amongst different communities and at a local IFA store.
“When we started, all I knew about was weeds, but I didn’t realize how many invasive plants there are,” Olivia said.
Emily, who knew about invasive plants, didn’t realize the disruption they caused. Katie said the group decided to make a difference by educating people. At first, they decided on a weed pull, but during January and February, adverse weather conditions made that impossible. So they decided to make a brochure, Bryn said.
“It was fun to do and it’s effective,” she said. “We’re able to provide a lot of information on which plants are invasive and how big the problem is and what can be done to stop it.”
Four boys — Jayden Brinson, Tanner Kener, Lucas Reynolds and John Robison — were studying earthquake survival when they realized technology may have a way to save people during the natural disaster.
“We made an app for safety where we put information from calling the Red Cross to having a live chat telling people to stay calm and what to do,” Tanner said.
The app also has a safety message and other emergency contacts.
“We talked to a counselor about surviving an earthquake and wanted to include that crisis information,” John said. “This way, in case of a natural disaster, most people will have what they need and who to contact with them.”
Parent Alicia Riddle said she applauded students working together on the projects.
“They were doing it on their own, without parent involvement, and because of that, they took ownership of their project and I watched my daughter grow,” she said. “They learned how to express themselves, they did research, they were able to present their work and they learned a lot of compromise.”
These skills are ones that Moon said will follow them through their academic and professional careers.
“They’re really excited and proud of their finished projects and they are amazing. But the experience that is the most important for the kids is not the project, but the process they went through and the feeling of accomplishment. The saying, ‘it’s the journey, not the destination,’ in this case is certainly true,” she said.