The Ocean Pollution Project has been making waves in the school community for many years. As the Grade 1 signature program, it integrates various educational activities over the course of several months, culminating in the Ocean Academy presentation to family and friends.
The program incorporates cross-curricular elements, such as literacy lessons where students research ocean animals and develop their writing skills by crafting paragraphs based on their findings. In math, students weigh trash they collect and create tally charts, fostering a deeper understanding of data analysis.
Field trips to places like UNCW Marine Quest and Kure Beach provide hands-on experiences to witness the impact of pollution firsthand. Expert guest speakers from the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and the Plastic Ocean Project add depth to the students' understanding of ocean pollution and conservation efforts, sharing valuable insights and inspire the young learners through interactive activities like puppet shows and recycling talks.
Lessons in Good Citizenship
The project also emphasizes the importance of civic engagement. Teacher Carrie Casson says, “The aim is to teach things that are relevant to their lives so that the kids can feel empowered to take action. By studying their local environment, the students learn about their role as community members and how they can contribute to its well-being.” Discussions on ocean pollution lead to brainstorming solutions, such as writing letters to city council members and promoting the use of reusable bags and straws.
This year, the project reached new heights when Mayor Bill Saffo visited CFA’s 1st Grade classes in response to the students' letters to the City Council. The mayor encouraged them to continue writing to politicians, rallying others at the school to join the cause and become responsible citizens who care for the earth.
The project's success is not only measured by its educational value but also by its influence beyond the classroom. Teacher Gretchen Scoutelas says the long-term goal is to empower students to educate others and inspire positive change in their communities. Families have noticed the transformative effects on students’ behaviors and adopted environmentally friendly practices, such as refusing plastic straws or picking up trash during bike rides.
Through expert collaborations and fun, engaging lessons, Cape Fear Academy is nurturing a generation of young citizens dedicated to preserving our oceans and improving our Wilmington community.