Helping Elementary School Students Make Their Civic Impact
It was a crisp autumn morning in September. Morven Park’s Turkey Hill Education Farm was swarming with local second graders who were exploring the life and challenges facing the monarch butterfly as part of a multi-lesson, project based learning experience.
I observed students pretending to be butterflies, pollinating “flowers” in an energy-filled game. I caught students anxiously waiting their turn to see the 30 or so monarch chrysalises and butterflies ready for their release to head towards Mexico, all exclaiming how cool it was that they could be a part of this fragile creature’s migration journey. I overheard students excitedly sharing ways that they could help restore meadow habitats and raise milkweed plants at school to help fix the problem of habitat loss. It is an inspiring process to witness that lightbulb moment when one group member exclaims, “I’VE GOT IT! What do you think of this?”
These students, as young as seven or eight years old, had the opportunity to grapple with a real-world problem, learn more about it and brainstorm a solution, all the while encouraging each other to dig deeper and think more creatively until the team was in agreement. This process is closely aligned to the scientific method of problem-solving and Morven Park Center for Civic Impact’s civics education objectives, which allows students to apply existing and new knowledge towards making a real difference.
At Morven Park Center for Civic Impact we know elementary students are capable and ready to make a difference. Every program we offer for this age group strives to teach young students to be outstanding citizens who:
- Knows that their voice matters as an individual.
- Examines current issues that are relevant to their lives.
- Takes responsibility for their actions.
- Makes an impact on those around them.
These opportunities to learn meaningful content, and practice being good listeners, effective communicators, critical thinkers and problem solvers are so important to our young people’s ability to contribute to society and face challenges head on. They can challenge the status quo and make a positive impact, and we at Morven Park Center for Civic Impact believe that that civic engagement starts in elementary school.