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Students write about and interact on environmental issues in their communities.

Ages: All
Languages: All
Contact: For more information about participating in this or other iEARN projects, write to or see Web link



Poem by Nuria a YouthCaN New Planning Committe member:

YouthCaN to me means leadership

Where people come together through a global membership

Interconnections of youth to reach a common goal

To make the world a better place for the fulfilment of our souls.

Hiking allows us to explore the natural world around us

Leaving a trail of hard work behind us

The Discovery Room is a place we brainstorm

To form ideas to better tomorrow

Impacting the world is one of our main objectives

Throught the iEARN International Conference we put it in perspective

YouthCaN always takes the time to protect wildlife

Taking away the pain and strife of habitat destruction

The landscapes we seek in our hikes always capture our attention

We take the time and recreate them to show our appreciation

Recycling is never distant in our minds

We always re-use the gifts of trees and create wonderful handicrafts

After all the hard work we sit back, relax and munch on some snacks.





YouthCaN Participants at Martin Luther King School in Senegal











To learn more, visit Web link


(Youth Communicating and Networking)

One example of students working together to make a difference is YouthCaN, a youth run organization that uses technology to inspire, connect, and educate people worldwide about environmental issues. Through a network of conferences, activities and events, YouthCaN unites environmentally active youth to exchange ideas about the environment and empower others to make a difference in their own communities. YouthCaN is a collaboration between iEARN, NYU, the American Museum of Natural History, and various environmental clubs and organizations. Following are just a few YouthCaN environmental project examples.

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Seeds of Change in Southern Florida

In 1992 after Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida, teacher Rowena Gerber and her elementary class at Miami Country Day School decided to grow trees to re-leaf decimated southern Florida communities. At year’s end, 2,000 trees, each bedecked with a booklet of students’ poems, were donated to hurricane victims. This project was the beginning of the school’s long-standing relationship with the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) which provides seeds, farm supplies and training to small-scale farmers and urban gardeners in developing countries. In partnership with ECHO, the Miami students began experimenting with growing plants that are needed in developing countries. They will soon be providing seeds to farmers in the tropics, among them the native Florida seminole pumpkin and the amazing moringa tree which is fast-growing and a rich source of food, vitamins and medicine.

The kids also grow herbs, and have formed their own non-profit corporation, Project Hope, which sells plants and herb-infused vinegars. Through Project Hope, students are contributing to two solar cooking initiatives in Haiti, a country that is seriously deforested and where finding cooking fuel is a daily challenge for many impoverished citizens. Proceeds from the students’ plant and vinegar sales help to fund a revolving loan that enables Haitian villagers to purchase solar cookers; donated funds also support a solar cooker store and information center in Port-Au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. As part of their studies, each grade at Miami Country Day School designs and builds solar cookers, from primitive crayon melters made by the four-year-olds to more sophisticated inventions designed by fifth graders.

A network of 87 schools in Port-Au-Prince are now implementing gardening and solar cooking education, having visited and seen the success of the Miami Country Day School program. Gerber’s school will work this year with a Haitian teacher to design food systems activities and curricula for Haiti. Gerber is also working on ways to distribute seeds and sprouters (inexpensive plastic devices used to sprout seeds) to refugee camps and to needy Haitian communities as a quick and efficient way to enhance health and food security. These personal ties to Haitian communities, enriched through visits, letters, email and picture exchanges, enhance the Miami students’ agricultural and multicultural understanding.

Miami Country Day School now has a garden for each pre-K to fifth grade class, along with shared arbor and green house projects designed by the students. Experiments and other enrichment activities take place at the nearby lab of the Abess Center for Environmental Studies. Activities related to gardening and solar cooking have been integrated into the curriculum in several ways. Students receive instruction in science and social studies through working on food systems, and the Florida Solar Energy Center curricula on solar energy and alternative fuels ensures that solar-cooking work is also an in-depth science exploration. Nutrition, biology, Florida history, Haitian culture-many other subjects have come alive.

“ It has been rewarding to watch the children learn and to listen to their insights and discoveries-their hand’s on, nose-on, mouth-on, and both-feet-in approach to this thing we call science.” Gerber notes. For the last five years, student gardeners, designers, and engineers from Miami Country Day School have presented their work at YouthCaN, an international gathering of young environmentalists at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. The school is working on a curriculum guide to document how Gerber’s activities with students address the national and state standards.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the program is that the students learn the feasibility and value of making a postive difference in the world. As Gerber notes, “They are genuinely doing something to help other people, and that makes them feel good. When they sell vinegar, it’s something that they have done from scratch: they’ve grown the plants, they’ve made the labels, they’ve made the whole thing. It’s not like selling chocolates for a good cause-here they can see how their own efforts and ideas can benefit other people.”

Credits to Green Teacher. Excerpted from, "Teaching About Food Systems," by Carmela Federico, Green Teacher # 65, Summer 2001 edition. Subscriptions cost $24/year (4 issues) from: Green Teacher, PO Box 452, Niagara Falls, NY 14304, (416) 960-1244,

Additional YouthCaN Projects include

Solar Cooking Project Description

Name of Project: Solar Olympics
Description: Participants are invited to experiment with alternative energy uses by making, testing and using solar cookers. Recipes, construction tips, experiments and research findings will be shared on line and compiled on a web site.
Ages: All ages are invited to participate.
Curriculum Areas: Fully integrated to include environmental science, economics, ethics, physics, law, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, earth science, public relations, sociology, engineering, medicine, politics, agriculture, journalism, and art.
Timeframe: This project will continue indefinitely. Results will be shared at international conferences through demonstrations led by participants.
Classroom activities may include:
• Students will design original solar oven
• Students will compare insulation materials
• Students will compare the effects of climate changes on solar cooking
• Students will write letters to local newspapers about the benefits of using solar energy
• Students will create a web page about solar cooking
• Students will write and present a public service announcement for radio or TV about the need to conserve energy, deforestation issues in third world countries, the problems with fossil fuels, the greenhouse effect, or global warming
• Students will compile a solar cookbook with tips on converting standard recipes to solar oven recipes

Planetary Notions

Planetary Notions is an environmental project, currently facilitated by students at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. The project offers students around the world an opportunity to publish articles in an annual magazine so that they can share their views about the world's environmental health and how to protect it. In addition to articles, Planetary Notions facilitates discussion about these issues through an online forum. The publication includes summaries of the major discussions from the year.
Labs Alive - Students share in scientific research and classroom practice with a focus on environmental issues.
Pollution: A Menace Posed by Mankind - Discussion of the various types of pollution problems as seen by local / regional /global perspectives.
Waste-Problem or Possibility? - This project researches how we are treating waste in our communities.

Students and teachers at the Old Secondary School for Girls in Kafr el Sheikh, Egypt are working on environmental issues in their school community and discussing them with US students in the YouthCaN Project in iEARN. Students write: "The Kafr El-sheikh governorate is located on the north of the Arab Republic of Egypt between the two branches of the Nile along 100 km. on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea."
After looking around their school yard, students were concerned about its physical appearance. Some students researched which plants were native and would grow best. Formerly neglected places in the school yard became new gardens. Other students painted murals on school walls in a beautification campaign. Still others looked at issues of waste management and engaged in a clean-up effort, mobilizing other students in the school. At each stage of their work, they communicate with hundreds of students in the United States, Lebanon and other countries through one of the 200 www-based forums sponsored by iEARN to enable international interaction and collaboration.

" We send you our photo and a big hello from Kafr el Sheikh, Egypt!!!"



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