Thursday, September 16, 2010

4th Graders work makes OCEANA blog!

Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless, a GFS graduate, recently wrote a letter to show his appreciation for the hard work and donation of last year's 4th grade EAC. Today you can find this story and a photograph of Giza (now a 5th grader)in the Oceana Beacon...

Check it out!

Congratulations to our hard working young activists!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summary of the 09'-'10 year of the 5th Gr. EAC

The Germantown Friends School Fifth Grade Environmental Action Club (E.A.C.), led by GFS science teacher Geoffrey Selling, is group of 5th graders committed to helping the environment, and to encouraging others to do the same. They meet every Monday after school from 2:45-4:00pm.


To start off the year, the E.A.C. decided to start the school year with a dried fruit/candy/nut sale/fundraiser. The student members made all sales. The kids went around to people they knew, and sold the product(s) to them. They made over $3800.

Choosing the Theme

Next, the E.A.C. needed to choose a project theme for the year. Through a survey, and a few discussions, the final decision was: composting.

What is composting

Composting is when you take food scraps, leaves, lawn clippings etc., and let them decompose (a fancy word for rot) into rich, fertile soil in a controlled way. Once done, composted soil quite good planting soil (I’ll explain more later). Depending on the type of food, and method of composting, it can from take 2 weeks to 6 months to compost a food scrap.

Why we compost

Here are a few reasons why you should compost:

- Composting reduces waste, and therefore landfill space.

- Reduces methane, a greenhouse gas emitted in the process of decomposition. Methane is more than 20 times more potent then CO2 (warms the Earth 20 times faster)

- Composing creates unimaginably fertile soil, great for your garden or flowerbed.

How to compost

Here’s some info on composting:









After the group had educated themselves about composting, it was time to educate others. So, they put on a play. After weeks of brainstorming, script writing, costume making, rehearsing, and program planning, the production was unveiled on April 20.

This play, which consisted of three skits (or sketches), two presentations (using PowerPoint), two songs, and many good lessons, was a fabulous display of dramatic excellence. These lessons could not have been told in such a hilarious way without the students. This play, all of its roots, ideas, props, rehearsals and performances, were accomplished by the hard work, time, and energy of the student members. BRAVO!

Earth Force Summit 2010

One thing that the E.A.C. does every year is attend the annual Earth Force Summit. Earth Force is a non-profit organization that supports environmental youth groups (such as the E.A.C.), and provide funding for them.

Each year, Earth Force holds a local summit (or meeting) at the Philadelphia Zoo. There, other groups like the E.A.C. from around Philadelphia and the vicinity showed their ideas to the other groups attending. There were ten groups in attendance. Each group would set up a booth, and talk to the other groups about their project. After about an hour of roaming around looking at other groups’ booths, there was a puppet show, a performance by GFS (one of the skits they did in their earlier play), and a raffle. After the summit was over, each group was allowed to look at the animals in the Zoo. To learn more about Earth Force, visit their website at:

Outdoor Activity

The Pond

Once the weather warmed up, there was much yard work to be done. One of the E.A.C’s jobs is to help maintain and beautify the school campus. First on the list was cleaning the pond. A group of 5-6 members emptied (more like bailed) out the water in the pond using buckets, took out the leaves, sticks, rocks, algae, and of course, composted them.

Then Geoffrey refilled the pond. They also rearranged the rocks around the pond, fixed the filter, and installed new pond plants using money from their earlier fundraiser. They celebrated this success with brownies. Yum.

Multiflora rose

Another victory was extracting the multiflora rose from the Lower School Woods. A group of 3 kids and 1 adult finally removed the root after 3 periods of hard digging. The multiflora rose is a hard to remove and extremely invasive species of rose.

To read more on the multiflora rose, go to:

The Berm and Vicinity

Another job to be completed, was to ready the berm (a raised area for planting) in the Lower School Woods for next year’s implants. A small group of 2 took a period and a half to weed the berm, and trim the existing plants. Also, another group of three readied another area for next year’s planting. They also planted three small shrubs near the edge of woods.

Over a few periods, 4-6 members improved the pathways in the woods by remulching them, adjusting the logs lining the paths, and trimming the branches occluding the path. The branches belonged to the nuisance plant that dominates the Lower School Woods, the Ohio Buckeye. For more information on the Ohio buckeye, click below.

Butterfly Garden

A few years back, the E.A.C. built a butterfly garden outside the Main Building, as one of the goals/responsibilities of the E.A.C. is to help beautify the campus. This garden is filled with native plants (plants the belong in this habitat). During the fall, many sticks and leaves had fallen into the garden, and those had to be raked out. A group of 5-7 did this. They also weeded the garden and tied the daffodil leaves; they get in the way otherwise. To finish, they cut the daffodil leaves, and added new plants. This fix-up was much needed.

Composting Bins

The main goal of the 2010 E.A.C was install new composting bins for the Lower School. The old bins were falling apart, old, rotten, and had served their purpose. It was time to replace them (in the opinion of some, that time had long past).

After looking in magazines, books, websites, and other places, the E.A.C. decided it was easier, and more economical to ask GFS Maintenance Dept. to build one for us. They built a "four-bin system" compost bin. This specific type of composting consists of four bins, one for leaves, one for recently added scraps, one for partially decomposed scraps, and one for finished compost. GFS needs a special bin for leaves, because every fall, if all the leaves on campus were to be put in a 40'x40'x12' room, they would fill it to the top. Of course, we can' t compost all of them, but we do as much as we can. The other three are used in a “three-bin” process. To find out more on the “three bin” process, visit:

The bins themselves are made of a type of composite made of old plastic bags, which is a very sustainable material. The bins also have a very cool “front-loader” design, which makes the contents easier to turn.

All and all, the ’09-’10 E.A.C. had a very productive year.

- Zack C.

‘09-’10 E.A.C. Member

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Marine Environmental Educator Visits Third Grade Science

GFS alumni David Hayward (pictured left), class of 1968, is a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer. His mission is to educate citizens about ways to help improve the health of our waterways. Third grade students chose water as their environmental action project this year and invited Mr. Hayward to visit and share his experience.

Students were fully engaged as they learned the story of Inky the baby pygmy sperm whale who was beached due to a stomach full of plastic. Coast Guard volunteers, among many others, helped to rescue and save Inky from the health issues caused by human litter. Inky's luck changed for the better. What about the other wildlife affected by litter?

How can we make a difference? There are many ways to help. Let's start with something simple, like using reusable bags for shopping and carrying personal items.

Did you know that...
  • About 750 billion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year? Less than 1% of those bags are recycled.
  • The rest of those bags end up in landfills or as litter in every ocean on our planet.
  • Plastic bags photodegrade (not biodegrade) into smaller toxic polymers which contaminate water and soil.
  • If you use a reusable cloth bag, you save 6 plastic bags per week on average. That's 24 bags per month. 288 bags per year. 22,176 in an average lifetime.
  • If just 1 person in 5 did this we would save 1,330,560,000,000 plastic bags.

Some good news...
  • China and Bangladesh have banned plastic bags.
  • Ireland now charges consumers for plastic bags.
  • San Francisco has banned plastic bags. Oakland and Boston are considering bans.
and by the way...
  • Plastic bags are made from oil
  • Reducing plastic bags decreases our dependence on foreign oil
  • China will save 37 million barrels of oil each year because of their ban on plastic bags!
There are so many ways our community can make a difference. Stop using plastic water bottles for the same reasons listed above. GFS hasn't missed them since we stopped buying them 2 years ago!

Thank you to Mr. Hayward for volunteering to make a difference by educating people and empowering them to feel like they CAN make a difference. Every little effort helps.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Special Thank You to our Parent Volunteers!

We would not have been as successful with our program without the help of the following EAC parents who donated their time:

Indre Page
Barbara Overholser
Emily Daeschler
Madhuri Malkani
Sue Smith
Amina Loder
Tema Esberg
Judy McCoubrey
Jeanette Pailas

Thank you... thank you... thank you!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By Eamon M

First we were wondering what our project was going to be for this year's EAC. Matthew and I came up with an idea. Karen was talking about a machine that opened the windows in the Sharpless building green house based on the temperature so the plants don’t dry. Sadly it broke. Matthew and I came up with an idea (the same idea as Cassie and Maya) to raise money to fix the machine. Then the oil spill happened, so Karen asked if we wanted to raise money to help clean up the oil spill. We raised $277.08 with a lemonade stand and donations.
In the 4th grade EAC we have done a lot, we have picked up litter, we have done a lemonade sale raising $277.08 in donations and selling lemonade. One of are main ideas are to convince people to compost, pick up litter and much more things.

Lily Z.
This is the last EAC of the year!! I wish we could have more time. The weeks went by so fast. From are lemonade stand we raised $277.08. we all put a lot of effort in to this. I think EAC is a great idea to get involved and it was fun. When I heard this was the last time I would be going to 4th grade EAC I was SO UPSET
-Caroline K