Students at Olmsted Falls Middle School spent the last month researching various sustainability issues and presented their work at the Sustainability Fair held at the school May 30. In addition to the 52 student projects on display, 22 vendors also had booths and taught visitors how they can become more environmentally friendly.
The Sustainability Fair was incorporated into the seventh-grade science curriculum this year. Seventh-grade students conducted either straight research or an experimental design focusing on various sustainability topics. The class was divided into two teams and voted on the top 52 projects to display at the Sustainability Fair.
“We teach environmental science in the seventh grade, and we focus on pollution and conservation,” said Kathy Dean, seventh-grade science teacher. “The students were given a list of sustainability projects and they were allowed to pick the one that interested them the most.”
Throughout the course, approximately 10 guest speakers were invited to speak to the students about environmental issues in the Northeast Ohio area. Kathleen Rocco, co-chairwoman of the Green Schools Committee of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), was one of the 10 speakers and chairwoman of the Sustainability Fair. The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC works with communities to design and construct buildings that improve quality of life.
“I was hoping these projects would change how these kids interact with the environment,” said Rocco. “Around 90 percent of the kids who did experiments with green cleaners found that they cleaned just as well, if not better.”
Students had their posters on display in both the cafeteria and the gymnasium and shared with visitors what they learned through their research. Students had a vast array of topics, such as worm composting, wind energy and organic gardening.
“My project was on the advantages and disadvantages of both gasoline and battery-powered cars,” said seventh-grader Rachel Loughren. “I researched which costs less and which is better for the environment. It was fun learning all about it.”
Local companies, such as In Forno Pizza, Forbo Flooring Systems and Fresh Fork Market, held informational sessions on how their products are environmentally friendly. In Forno Pizza uses a wood-fired oven to cook its pizzas, and their outdoor setup provided visitors with fresh pizza during the event.
This was the first year students were required to conduct a research project, as well the first Sustainability Fair at the school. Dean hopes this event will continue in the future and was pleased with the enthusiasm her students had toward the project.
“The students went beyond our expectations,” said Dean. “They really got into it, and I could tell because they spent so much time experimenting and researching their project. They also hardly complained about the work.”