Columbia students at Squalicum beach.

On May 2, third graders from Columbia Elementary School went to Squalicum Beach for a cleanup to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day. The students were joined by RE Sources Sustainable Schools education coordinators and volunteers from North Cascades Audubon Society.

As a part of an IB inquiry unit about bird migration and conservation, Columbia third grade students learned about migratory birds as well as the challenges they face on their long journey. In partnership with RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, students have learned about waste and its impact on the environment. They explored where waste goes and how to change personal habits to reduce waste, especially single-use plastics. They learned about the problem of marine debris, especially plastics, on migratory birds and other wildlife. This year’s World Migratory Bird Day’s emphasis was “be the solution to plastic pollution.”

Members of the Whatcom Audubon Society presented information about migratory birds prior to the cleanup and were on-site with a bird scope, allowing students to view marine birds up close.

Columbia parent Darrah Blanton, who attended the beach cleanup, said this was a valuable lesson and field trip for students.

“While the subject of plastic pollution is something we discuss regularly at home, having this issue addressed at school, and particularly through a hands-on activity like a beach cleanup, has been very impactful for my son,” said Blanton. “He is developing an awareness of how human behavior can have negative affects on wildlife, including migratory birds. I love that he and his classmates are learning that they can take personal action to lessen these affects and increase the chances of survival for animals.”

As a culmination of this activity, students will share their learning about bird migration, waste reduction and conservation with their school and neighborhood community. They also created up-cycled projects out of used textiles that were on display at the Children’s Art Walk on May 3.

 

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