Friday, I had the kids do an assignment in science called, "Helpful or Harmful?" There were given a list of events that could happen to an environment, and they had to decide whether it was helpful or harmful to the environment. They also had to write down some way that that event would change the environment.
For instance, the first event was, "Trees cut down to build new houses." For the most part, the kids agreed that this would be harmful to the environment. I was very impressed with some of my students who said that one effect this would have on the environment would be to reduce the amount of oxygen available. Some of the other responses were not quite as impressive, but still memorable. Here are a few.
Event: Filling up a pond to make a parking lot.
"Harmful, because the frogs would have no place to swim the fish would die and turn into fossils."
"Armful, because the fish live there and they wanted their home."
"Helpful -- putting cement is helpful because it's making the water clean."
Event: A flood brings fertile soil to a river bank.
"Harmful -- it's bad to spill soil to the river because it makes the fishes die."
"Harmful -- the river bank will look gross."
"Harmful -- a flood is bad, it mostly comes from the toilet and it can be very nasty n-a-ste and it can ruin the soil on the land."
[My favorite response]
"Harmful -- no one would be able to pay money at the river bank."
Event: An oil spill in the ocean.
"Harmful -- the oil will turn the ocean green, yellow, orange, black or white."
"Harmful -- no one will swim in the ocean."
"Harmful because like if one of the sharks in the ocean it can have its mouth open and the oil drops it can go in its mouth and the shark can swallow it and it can go in the sharks mouth and the shark can die from it."
Event: Collecting old newspapers in the neighborhood for recycling.
"Helpful because it will make less trash on the floor."
"Helpful -- so people can't read them any more."
Event: Building a bird house and feeder in your backyard.
"Harmful -- garden will be destroyed."
There was definitely some thought put into these answers. And that thought was very interesting indeed...