Second Grade Students at Northside are Global Change Makers
Economics instruction for second grade students? At Northside Elementary School, they learned the concepts of supply and demand, scarcity and sustainability, and during that unit, they became interested in exploring how economic factors impact access to water around our world. Among other crucial facts, they learned that worldwide, a child dies every 90 seconds from lack of clean water.
If it sounds advanced for second graders, think again. This unit became a rich integration of science, social studies and environmental justice. Through stories, virtual reality experiences and Google Earth explorations, students examined water access around the world. When they met Godi Godar of the Democratic Republic of Congo, founder of Go Conscious Earth, students decided they wanted to impact change in the world in a real way. Godar’s nonprofit funds the building of freshwater wells in villages around Lake Tumba in the DRC. By 2016 the group had provided clean water to more than 10,000 people, and the number has grown significantly since then.
After Godar’s initial visit with all of the second grade students at Northside, the children brainstormed ways to support Go Conscious Earth. The outcome of those discussions was a plan to collect coins in every classroom at the school by providing “change jugs,” with accompanying information about the plight of limited water access across so much of the DRC. In addition to their coin drive, the students hosted a second grade market in which they used the school’s library makerspace to create items to sell in various stores they would run. From stress balls to beaded jewelry, the market allowed students to use the economic principles studied to earn additional money towards this initiative. Parents and staff were invited to visit the market and purchase items that were crafted by the students.
On June 5, the jugs were collected, the coins counted, and when Godar returned to visit with the second grade students in the library media center, the contribution to Go Conscious Earth totaled nearly $700. The children seemed delighted to watch the smiling Godar receive the envelope, and several asked questions and made brief speeches about the importance of the fundraising they had spearheaded. This project has started what will be a lasting partnership between the students of Northside and an organization that allows students to give back in substantial and relevant ways.
Kathryn Cole, School Library Media Coordinator, helped shape the entire water access curriculum, and she created the publicity to share in the Northside school community, as well as organized Godar’s visits. She produced a Spark Adobe video called “Water Access: How We Can Help,” available for viewing here: https://spark.adobe.com/video/kLT0Y0gwQdpHL
Before Godar said goodbye to the children, he emphasized the degree of lifesaving support their coins would provide. “We will be able to drill a well for one village, and you guys will be the heroes. We will share pictures of you guys. The people in the village will say, ‘These kids in the U.S. have raised these funds, only for you.’”
His final words offered inspiration and encouragement. “Plant a little seed, and it grows bigger and bigger. Don’t dream little tiny dreams - always dream big!”