With the addition of 100 new, and very hungry pets, “e” inc.’s new curriculum, “Look Outside Your Window” has wiggled its way into the hearts of the after-school students at the John Chittick Elementary School. Their new pets are earthworms, Red Wigglers to be precise, and the students are in charge of keeping them healthy and happy. They make sure that their home is kept dark, slightly moist, and above all, that they are NEVER hungry. They keep their pets satiated with food scraps, many of which are brought from the student’s home.
Initially, the worm bin was included to teach the students about nutrient recycling, but it has evolved into something much bigger. It is a living model of how everything on earth, living or nonliving, is connected, including humans. The choice to simply toss an apple core into the trash is now a serious offense, since the children recently discovered that it is a favorite snack of the Red Wiggler. And it doesn’t end there! These Red Wigglers are decomposers, and they are returning valuable nutrients from that apple core to the soil. In a few short weeks the reconditioned soil will be used by the students in their garden, which, as you might have guessed, will start the cycle all over again.
“Look Outside Your Window” is the newest addition to the “e” inc. curricula. It was created through monies donated by the Wallace Foundation and administered by the Boston After School and Beyond program. Piloted at the Chittick School in Mattapan, “Look Outside Your Window” was created to expose and immerse students in their local ecosystem. Because nature is in constant flux, this 10-week-per team program changes with the seasons. With each new group that comes to the program, a new focal animal is introduced. In the fall the students observed and recorded the behavior of the Grey Squirrel as it painstakingly prepared itself for winter. When the snow began to fall, the students turned their attention to several different species of local birds and learned how they adapt to the harsh realities of winter. Come spring the students will focus on butterflies, rearing a local species from egg to adult.
Furthermore, our participants are learning that areas in their neighborhood are actually habitats for these animals, and they have been formulating and initiating action plans to improve them. The second-graders organized a writing campaign to Mayor Menino asking for his help in creating a greener community. The fourth- and fifth-graders are working diligently to enhance their school recycling program. In addition, both groups have planted tree seeds and taken a pledge to keep their schoolyard clean.
A letter recently sent to Boston Mayor Menino by a 2nd grader from Chittick Elementary School.
Ms. Courtney Forrester, the dynamic “e” inc. educator at the Chittick, has done a singular job of bringing this new curriculum to life. The students are really involved in their action projects and work on them throughout the week. As for the science portion, well, as Stephanie, a fifth-grader at Chittick put it, “I used to hate science. It was so boring. But now I love it!”