Unstoppable Schools Launch
The Unstoppable Schools Project is creating a new generation of coral nerds
To give coral reefs a fighting chance, we must engage the next generation. This year Chasing Coral teamed up with Charleston County School District in South Carolina to launch the Unstoppable Schools Project, a project-based learning initiative designed to catalyze student-led environmental investigations in the classroom. The Unstoppable Schools Project armed students with new skills for problem-solving, and their work had a meaningful impact on the community. In total, 1500+ students experienced the film and 400+ students engaged in Unstoppable Projects across 7 high schools in the district.
“All kids are born scientists, they’re born adventurers, they want to explore. If we can get kids to hold on to that curiosity, then our planet would be a much better place.” -Zack Rago, Coral Nerd
Students emulated the Chasing Coral team as they approached their Unstoppable Projects. They scoured Charleston in search of answers to their driving questions, which included understanding why microplastic pollution rates on the coastline are increasing, how their class could sequester the carbon dioxide harming coral reefs, and why local loggerhead populations haven’t rebounded. On their quests, they engaged dozens of local elected officials, including city councilmen and women and Town of Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie, in addition to representatives of the state’s utility companies, local small business owners, and residents. In so doing, students are taking their impact beyond the classroom. These students are unstoppable. See for yourself!
CHECK OUT THE NEXT GENERATION OF CORAL NERDS
Chasing Coral featured scientist Phil Dustan visited St. John’s High School to share local maps that highlighted the increased risk of flooding in the area. Dustan noted, “The kids begin asking questions: What happens if all the corals die? What happens if there aren’t coral reefs? They get it. They understand it.”
At Wando High School, hundreds of students participated in 25+ student-led projects across the AP Environmental Sciences and Honors Environmental Sciences classes. Students not only discovered local issues but also engaged as changemakers in their community. Spencer Margosian stopped at nothing to investigate South Carolina’s legislative barriers to residential solar installation and shared his findings in this video.
At R.B. Stall High School, small teams explored different approaches to making a lasting impact in their community. For many, art was a winner. A group of students transformed trash collected at their local park into a sign they plan to display publicly as a reminder to park guests. To really make a splash, the group also took action by writing a letter to local elected officials expressing their concerns about the amount of trash they found in public spaces.
We’ve got to stop sucking. Seriously. At least that’s how a group of Wando High School students felt after investigating the consequences of their community’s addiction to plastic straws, and recent legislative action taken to address this growing problem. In their documentary, the team interviews local leaders in the field, including South Carolina Aquarium Conservation Manager Kelly Thorvalson and Mount Pleasant Town Council Member Jim Owens.
Image provided by Jessica Herbert, Wando High School
Rebecca is a force to be reckoned with. Her Unstoppable Project sought to answer the following question: how can I employ branding techniques and new communications methods to enhance recycling rates in my town? To this end, she developed ForceForRecycling, a “one-woman operation” integrating new-age graphics and a touch of humor into recycling educational materials, and adapting materials as she analyzes consumer feedback. “The Unstoppable Schools Project made me aware of my school’s low recycling rates. After speaking with our school’s facilities manager and the local recycling companies, it was incredibly easy to obtain three bins and place them in the cafeteria equipped with posters to illustrate what to recycle.” Rebecca Goodwin, Student at Wando High School.
At James Island Charter High School, a student team interviewed the Department of Natural Resources to investigate the ecological risks surrounding Charleston’s local Eastern Oyster populations and proposed ways residents can protect them. Did you know oysters fluctuate between genders throughout their lives and can filter 1.3 gallons of water per hour? Check out their video to learn more!
The work these teams have done inspires us to bring the Unstoppable Schools Project to more classrooms, offering more students a fantastic opportunity to hone their problem-solving and critical thinking skills that will help them be better leaders in whatever fields they pursue and make a positive impact on their community.
For more information, click HERE for an exclusive video of our students in action and ways to bring this program to your classroom.