Sustainability News and Highlights

2015-2016 Classroom Sustainability Presentations

Below is a list of the classroom presentations the 2015-2016 AmeriCorps member with PPS is able to offer teachers this year. Similar topics might be arranged. Many of these presentations can be adjusted for different age groups.

To schedule a class presentation, please email or call:

Stacy Ludington, AmeriCorps

Environmental Projects Coordinator, PPS

503-916-2000 ext. 74276

Environmental Justice

·         Environmental Justice through Songs (3rd-12th Grade)

Environmental Justice is an environmental topic too often excluded from environmentalism. At the same time, it has great binding power to encompass other social issues which affect our society, including PPS students. Environmental Justice refers to the equal distribution of resources (clean water, air, etc.) to all people regardless of race, color, nationality, or income so as to ensure a healthy environment for all. These topics overlap with urban struggles such as pollution, racism, and violence. This presentation explains what environmental justice is, gives a brief history, and examples of striving towards environmental justice within Portland (i.e., Cully Park).

Activity: The class will listen to two to three songs with an environmental justice message and analyze the lyrics. Songs will be age appropriate.

·         Green Cleaners (3rd-12th Grade)

Multnomah County Department of Health is teaming up with PPS Sustainability to offer 30-45 min long classroom workshops to help connect our young citizens to the issues that affect them, their families, and their schools. This interactive workshop is on green cleaning supplies with an environmental justice focus. We will talk about the hazards of many traditional cleaning products and healthy alternative green cleaners.

Activity: Students will get the chance to make their own multi-purpose green cleaner to try out and take home, and also receive a pamphlet with directions on making other safe cleaning products, air fresheners, and other personal hygiene products such as shampoo.

History of the Environmental Movement

·         Earth Day is Every Day! (3rd-8th Grade)

This classroom presentation teaches students about what Earth Day is, the history of how it came about, and how students can make Earth Day every day.

Activity: Students will get the opportunity to either decorate reusable bags, make a pledge to hang in the classroom/school, or brainstorm ways the school can be greener and either draw pictures of their greener school or identify ways to implement it.

·         A Brief History of People and the American Landscape through Literature and Song (9th-12th Grade)

This classroom presentation takes a deeper look at the environmental movement by exploring people’s relationship to nature over time, from fear of the unknown wilderness (Little Red Riding Hood), to respect and desire for conservation (Pinchot vs. Muir), to being idolized (Into the Wild), through literature and songs. Students will use analysis of literature and music to piece together how people relate to the American landscape and discuss what they think will be next in this movement.

Activity: Students will then break up into groups and come up with an example of art, music, and/or stories that represent people’s relationship to nature over time and present their choice to the class.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

·         PPS Recycling Basics: Why, What and How? (3rd-12th)

A good presentation to kick off or reinforce recycling habits at schools. Teaches the basics of why it is important to recycle, what can be recycled at PPS, and how students can recycle or improve recycling at their school.

Activity: Students will either create signs for their recycling program, identify ways in which recycling can be implemented/improved at their school, develop an outline for an educational plan around recycling, or play RRR Jeopardy depending on the age group. Alternatively, students can conduct a waste audit to test their recycling knowledge and take scope of how the school is currently doing at recycling.

·         Consumption Reduction & Carbon-Footprint (6th-12th)

This activity focuses on the amount of resources the average American uses and compares that to averages in other countries. By taking into account population, we attempt to answer the question of what would happen to the earth if everyone lived like the average American.

Activity: Students will calculate their carbon-footprint and based on their results, search for ways that they can lower their carbon emissions.

·         Paper or Plastic? Wrong Question: An Introduction to Lifecycle Analysis through Food (6th-12th)

This classroom presentation is based on the concept of life cycle analysis, which involves looking at the “big picture” from resource extraction and production; through transportation, warehousing and retailing; to consumption and disposal. The lesson applies life-cycle thinking to a hamburger, while students work in groups to identify its life-cycle. Students will learn how resources are consumed, along with how and where waste is generated. (The fact that most waste is created long before the burger is put in the package should be a real eye opener).

Activity: Students will work in group to identify the lifecycle of an item in the room and identify ways within its lifecycle to minimize its impact. Student groups will present to the class.

·         Peek at Packaging (3-12th)

This fun activity involves an examination of the different purposes and types of packaging of common products. We will discuss the pros and cons of different types and relate it to our own consumption and impact on the environment.

Activity: Students will have a chance to design their own packaging and explain how it is different from typical product packaging.

Renewable Energy

·         Energy (3rd-12th)

This presentation explores what energy is and how we use it in our everyday lives, but also how using energy generated from burning fossil fuels negatively impacts the environment. Renewable and nonrenewable energy is explained and there is an overview of various energy sources. Students are asked what kind of energy they would like to power the future and are given a call to action to reduce and conserve ener

Activity: Energy Jeopardy.

·         The Renewable Energy Future: Yes! It’s Possible (9-12th)

This presentation discusses how despite how traditional energy sources have revolutionized our world, it is slowly causing a world that is polluted, costly, and economically unpredictable. Fossil fuels are starting to undermine the very security it built. We must switch our energy source to renewables. Many people say this cannot be done for a variety of reasons (costs, technology, kill jobs and more). However, this presentation shows just how a renewable energy future can look, exploring how the transportation, building, industry, and electricity sectors would need to change and how. (Best for specific environmental science classes)

Activity: No activity