Poem by Nuria a YouthCaN New Planning Committe
YouthCaN to me means leadership
Where people come together through
a global membership
Interconnections of youth to reach a common
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
Throught the iEARN International Conference
we put it in perspective
YouthCaN always takes the time to protect
Taking away the pain and strife of habitat
The landscapes we seek in our hikes always
capture our attention
We take the time and recreate them to show
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
(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
RealPlayer | Quicktime
|Seeds of Change in
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
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, www.greenteacher.com.
Additional YouthCaN Projects include
|Solar Cooking Project 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.
All ages are invited to participate.
: 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.
This project will continue indefinitely. Results will be shared
at international conferences through demonstrations led by participants.
• 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 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.
• - Students
share in scientific research and classroom practice with a focus
on environmental issues.
• : A Menace
Posed by Mankind - Discussion of the various types of pollution
problems as seen by local / regional /global perspectives.
- This project researches how we are treating waste in our communities.
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,