Students at Horace Mann Elementary School Get Busy Saving Bees

Students at Horace Mann Elementary School Get Busy Saving Bees
Posted on 11/13/2019
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This fall, the 5th Graders in Ms. Lindsay James’ class were buzzing about bees. “We started with a class discussion about something that makes us afraid. The consensus was bees. Soon, we were learning that bees are pollinators and that the vast majority of plants rely on them to grow. We also learned we need bees to keep our crops and earth healthy, but in recent years their numbers have been decreasing by the billions.”

“The more we learned, the less afraid we became, and the more we realized that bees needed our help. We focused on the guiding question: What can we do that would have the
biggest impact on the bees?”

Students broke into committees, held “staff” meetings and created plans. “Some of us, remembering how our own attitudes changed after we learned more about bees, decided that educating people would be the best route. Others decided that planting a garden with native flowers and bee hotels (think birdhouse, but for bees) would provide food and shelter for pollinators. Some students believed that selling products that exist because of pollination by bees would show people just how important bees are to the ecosystem,” explained James. “After a lengthy discussion, students figured out that all of our projects could be interconnected!”  

First, they visited other classes to promote their “bee” awareness campaign. Then they held a fundraiser. “We sold ‘chocolates’ (thank a bee for that), bee hotels (which students made), and raffle tickets to win a big stuffed bee,” said James. “Students raised over $350 for a pollinator garden we’ll install this spring.”

“This project helped students learned innumerable life skills and mindsets they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It involved many aspects of running a business: from the economics of supply and demand and balancing expenses with sales, to communicating with other committees and coworkers in order to work toward a shared vision,” adds James.

“This is deeper learning that makes a difference for our students.  They are solving real-world problems with collaboration and creativity. We are very proud of our students and their teacher, Ms. James, for such great work,” said principal, Greg Burton.

“One of my goals is to help students understand that learning about something you are afraid of can lessen your fear and open your mind to a whole new world of possibilities,” explains James. “I think we’re on the right track because last week a student saw a spider in the classroom and said, ‘Dude, I hate spiders. Can we learn about them next?’”