iEARN Stewards of the Earth and Water

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The following reflection was written by Flynn and Alayna, sixth-grade students in iEARN-USA Educator Greg Reiva’s Earth Science class at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Illinois, U.S. In it, they reflect on their class’s participation in the iEARN Earth Stewardship and Water is Life projects, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on them and their communities.

Hello! Our names are Flynn and Alayna. We are in Mr. Reiva's sixth grade Earth Science class at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Illinois, in the U.S. We are participating in the iEARN Earth Stewardship Project this year. The Earth Stewardship Project is an interactive project for students around the world to communicate with each other and connect through the importance of our planet. The goal of the project is to spread awareness and to encourage other students and their teachers to respect the Earth and help the environment. 

As members of the Earth Stewardship Project, we are doing our part to make the planet a healthier and safer place to live. We are doing this in multiple ways. Some of these are through research, experimentation, and observation. For example, to research, we have gone on websites that monitor the stability of climate and other important factors that make the Earth a better place to live. Some experiments we have done include testing the force of erosion, soil compositions, and particulates found in wind. The main experiment we have done for the Earth Stewardship Project has been to observe the growth of basil plants in our science lab. All these factors mentioned above have expanded our knowledge of the Earth’s ecosystem and the environment. 

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Our main goal is to study and help prevent the damage humans have done to Earth’s soil. This may not seem like an important topic, but the effects are greater than they appear to most people. For example, most agricultural farmers use a method of growing plants called till farming. During the winter, till farmers mow down and plow through the extra plant stalks that cover their fields. Once they have done this, the wind carries the loose soil from the top layer of the ground and deposits it elsewhere, leaving behind the hard, rocky soil that is not good for growing plants. When the land becomes unable to raise crops, more woodland becomes deforested to make room for more farmland. This reduces the number of wild ecosystems left on Earth. Although this is a shocking realization, there are many paths we could take to find solutions to this problem.

One solution is no-till farming. It may seem self-explanatory, but no-till farming is when agricultural farmers leave the extra stalks in the ground so that the roots of the dead plants keep the top layer of soil in place. This method not only benefits us, but also many different species of wildlife all over the world. For a more decorative solution, farmers can grow cover crops during the winter, such as clovers, so that the plant roots hold the soil in place.

There are also other problems occurring around the world that are affecting the environment, yet there are many possible solutions for them. We, along with many of our classmates, created a group to discuss and solve these issues. Team Green was created by and is for students. As members of Team Green, we attempt to solve problems that are affecting the ecosystems around our community. Although it is currently for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, we hope to expand not only to other ages, but also to other communities around the world. We highly encourage you to create a Team Green at your schools as well. Team Green is not defined by any specific criteria, but rather, by its common goal. We hope that we can all be connected through our objective: to help make the environment around the world a better place for all of us. 

Since October, our sixth-grade class and we in the Earth Stewardship Project have been in communication with teachers and students in Australia through the iEARN Water is Life project. We had the opportunity to share our experiences, view the results of community actions taken by students around the world, and share our experimental discoveries on the production of organic fertilizers. We also read postings on the iEARN discussion forums in iEARN's Collaboration Centre about Australia’s struggle with fires this year, and we offered our support and prayers. With the coronavirus currently gripping the world, it is now more important than ever to rally support for each other to foster fortitude and solutions to global problems.

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Flynn’s and Alayna’s teacher, Greg Reiva, recently gave their class an assignment to share and engage with their global peers in the iEARN Youth Forum about how COVID-19 is impacting their families and communities. Alayna and Flynn shared their reflections below:

Sometimes in learning there are obstacles that we’ve all faced. Right now, we are confronting a new obstacle, the coronavirus (COVID-19). This situation is most likely hard for all of you, just as it is for us. We would like to share our personal experiences of the pandemic with you.

Hello! I’m Alayna. I am part of a family of five, and my mom is a doctor (physician). She has two patients with COVID-19. As a result of this, she always wears a medical mask and works late because she must test all her patients for the illness as a safety precaution. I am grateful for all the doctors, first responders, grocery and postal workers, and all those who are trying their best to work their way through this pandemic. 

I’m Flynn. I’m from a family of seven and I have four siblings. When my mom goes to the grocery store, many of the items my family needs are rationed. This means that the number of things that my family can purchase is limited. As a result, we can only supply ourselves for a shortened amount of time, so in order to supply what we need, my family members go to the store more often, raising the chances that someone will get infected with COVID-19. Fortunately, because all of this, we get extra time to recognize what is occurring around us and connect virtually with others who are experiencing this around the world. 

To join the conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on your community, sign into your iEARN account, and visit the iEARN Teachers Forum or iEARN Youth Forum.

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