Bailey Johansen of Waukee, Jacque Draper of Stuart and Samantha Haas of Algona, Iowa, worked together with the Advanced Placement environmental science classes at Roosevelt to evaluate the current recycling patterns and develop strategies for improvement.
“We worked in the classrooms about every three weeks,” Johansen said. “Students collected data of what was being thrown away and what was being recycled so we could all analyze the information for the next steps in developing a sustainable recycling program.”
The Drake students also met with Roosevelt’s vice principal and facilities director about placing recycling bins in all classrooms to try and create a norm of recycling throughout the school. They are currently working on a grant proposal to fulfill this need.
“Our overarching goal in this project is to improve recycling program and develop a sustainability atmosphere throughout the entirety of Roosevelt High School — not just stop with one class,” Johansen said.
Noreen Nserko. Roosevelt’s AP environmental science teacher, is confident this larger goal will succeed. Her students formed a new eco-club at Roosevelt to bring larger sustainability practices and goals to the rest of the school.
This group will work closely with the Drake Environmental Action league (DEAL) to set sustainability goals for Roosevelt and also find ways to involve the Des Moines Public School District and outside community in promoting a sustainable way of life.
“I don’t think my students would have ever gotten this fired up about recycling and sustainability if it weren’t for these Drake students,” Nserko said. “When approached with this idea for the semester long project and the DEAL partnership, I knew it would be good for my students to see what it is like to do real college work. I didn’t imagine that they would take it to a whole new level by forming their own organization outside the classroom and internalizing the lessons they had learned.”
The Drake students will present the results of their capstone and the overall ecological implications when they visit with Roosevelt students on Friday. The project and new partnership demonstrates the continuation of a long-term partnership between the Environmental Science and Policy program at Drake University and the Des Moines public schools.
“Working with the environmental science class at Roosevelt to implement a sustainable recycling program has been a very practical experience for me,” Haas said. “I’ve been able to take the knowledge I’ve gained in the college classroom and apply it in a high school class setting — something very appropriate considering I will be teaching high school science with Teach For America next year.”