Wendy Thompson’s environmental science class utilizes project-based learning with an eye on protecting the future.
The latest project for her class of upperclassmen is a volunteer effort to help sponsor and donate to an organization called Ecocell, which recycles old, broken electronics that would otherwise be distributed into landfills and eventually leak mercury into the ecosystem.
All proceeds from the project go to the construction of a nonprofit children’s center at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, which needs $500 to complete its aviary. Thompson is hopeful Fossil Rim will even have a bit left over from funds raised to utilize as needed.
“Being an environmental science class, we’re always looking for ways to help the environment,” Thompson said. “We’ve had electronics drives through Luminant for several years, but this is the first year we’re doing it to help Fossil Rim through Ecocell.”
The students came up with the plan for the drive, which will be held Nov. 1-15 with drop-boxes located throughout the city.
“The kids put in donation boxes at all the (GRISD) schools, the post office, Brookshire’s and David’s Supermarket,” Thompson said.
The students are having a class competition to see who can bring in the most phones, laptops, mp3 devices and chargers.
“After the phones and devices are sent off to Ecocell, the money for each item will go directly to Fossil Rim,” Thompson said.
Greg Walton, receiving officer at Fossil Rim, asked Thompson if she would be interested in her class taking on this project. She knew it was a winner.
“If you think about all the phones people go through these days, a lot of them just end up in landfills,” Thompson said. “(The associated mercury) ultimately goes into our drinking water. This drive also helps Fossil Rim, which is a non-profit organization. They have a free children’s center people can take their kids to, and we’re trying to help them complete the renovation.
“Anytime we can get people to see the benefits of a place like Fossil Rim and create an awareness of how important it is, that can only help the environment. The more people who visit Fossil Rim growing up, the more who will help keep the awareness of these endangered animals up through generations.”
Environmental science students Estevan Carranza and Austin Pettitt are glad their class took on this project.
"It feels good to help out the environment," Carranza said. "It's a good way for us at the high school to get involved."
"Our generation has a lot of outdated technology that we don't use anymore, so we have it to give to a good cause," Pettitt added. "It's nice to help out those in our community - in this case Fossil Rim. All donations will help out the kids of Glen Rose, since they can grow up with the children's center."
The Glen Rose Reporter is sponsoring this project for Thompson's class.
"The kids wanted this project to be publicized and community wide," Thompson said. "A lot of the phones will come from kids, because they often have the most, but parents will also be able to contribute plenty. We just wanted the Reporter's help getting the word out."
The project with Ecocell is a good match for Thompson's class, according to the teacher.
"The environmental science class is project based," she said. "I want the students to become involved in projects that are going to be beneficial to the environment for years to come. Fossil Rim is working to save animal species, so I want to raise awareness. I want my students to leave good footprints in the environment, not bad ones."
Student Claire Blackman is enjoying the process of learning to leave those "good footprints."
"The environmental science class is a lot of fun," Blackman said. "I think that being able to do this is a great way for us to learn how we can help out and do things for the community that we never thought of before."
Thompson believes the Glen Rose community will step up to make for a substantial sendoff to Ecocell.
"The students are sponsoring this drive, and I know what a great community Glen Rose is," she said. "It has always stepped up for whatever my students have needed, so I'm hoping our local people will for this as well. That shows our students (the community cares) and it helps the environment - it's a win-win situation."