Education column: Zia students learn about life cycles, recycling

Zia fourth grade teachers, Trudi Ford, Kathi Holland, and Kama Hernandez, recently took their students on their annual field trip that included stops at the Clovis City landfill, a local recycling plant and culminated with a visit to the zoo.

Some years back Zia Elementary purchased an old cotton trailer through a Service Learning grant. After refurbishing, it was parked at the front of the school’s parking lot to collect cans for recycling. As the container became full, the cans were sold to a local recycling plant, and with the money received, half went to a local charity and the other half was used for a school improvement project.

In the past, Zia students have contributed to Clovis Meals on Wheels, the Lighthouse Mission, Keep Clovis Beautiful and the Clovis Food Bank.

Part of the fourth grade curriculum covers nature’s cycles, such as life cycles, water cycle, food chain, etc.

“We’ve actually done this for years, but now much of what we’re doing is actually part of our STEM standards (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math),” said Trudi Ford.

Zia fourth graders’ most recent trip began at the recycling plant where they got to watch their cans pressed into cubes. Next stop was by the Eastern New Mexico Food Bank where these motivated youngsters presented their $500 check; then, off to the landfill where Clovis city employees explained city recycling.

The last stop was the zoo; even though most students had been there before, this trip offered a visit with educated eyes. Based upon an animal’s physique, students were able to identify what kind of adaptation had taken place and whether an animal was herbivore or carnivore.

When asked what students had learned: “Clovis has one of the biggest trash compactors there is … 80 tons a day goes into the landfill … we need to recycle more … if you’re really quiet, the animals will come up to you, but don’t get too close to the tiger because he can spray eight feet!”

Back in the classroom, these resourceful teachers also do karaoke. With Sonic’s Limeades For Learning program, they were able to save enough to buy a karaoke sound system they use in the classroom.

Ford’s class treated me to a rousing rendition of “Photosynthesis” from Scholastic’s StudyJams. In addition, Ford shared they used the system for student presentations as well, adding, “What a difference it makes when all my students can hear what each other are saying.”

Principal Jarilyn Butler described the importance of teaching students responsible use of resources so that recycling becomes a life skill.

This year’s Christmas tree will be a “green” tree with “re-purposed” items as part of the decoration scheme.

Ben Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Need to dispose of your aluminum cans? Drive by Zia Elementary on Norris, and contribute to a good cause.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org.