Environmental History Students Write Children’s Books

Elementary and Upper School students came together to learn about climate change.
When Upper School History teacher Drew Devore was developing the senior elective on environmental history, he wanted to make sure the section on climate history wasn’t all doom and gloom. The good news, Drew said, is that “there's also a lot of hope.” 

He tasked his students with writing a children’s book that presented an environmental problem in a way that was hopeful and action-oriented. So that these projects wouldn’t exist in a vacuum, he reached out to Elementary School science teachers Laura Rosales and Michaela McGibbon to collaborate with one of the second grade classes. 

Laura and Michaela saw tremendous value in the cross-divisional collaboration, including allowing young students to view themselves as future Upper School scientists.

“Their passion for science can continue to develop and grow as they grow at Crossroads,” said Laura. 

In early October, the Upper and Elementary School students met and divided into pairs. The Upper Schoolers learned what the Elementary School students were interested in and what they knew already, which was more than expected. 

“I was very surprised because when I first went down to interview [my partner], he knew 10, 20 times more than I did when I was his age,” said author of “Teddy the Turtle,” senior Caden Weinhouse. In the book, Teddy sadly loses his home because of rising sea levels. “I tried to make it interactive.” Caden said. “I put in these little pull-tabs that you could pull to make the turtle move.”

The Upper Schoolers spent a few months researching, writing and making their books, and then the two classes met up again. The second graders were excited to receive their books and curled up on the floor with their Upper School partners to read. Senior Maizie Bartlett’s book, “Larry the Lobster” was important to both her and her partner. This book told the story about a lobster who had to move because of rising ocean temperatures. “I loved taking what I learned and sharing it with the younger generation,” said Maizie. “Hopefully it influences them to make a difference.” 

The project was a big hit with all of the students, and their families, too. Michaela shared, ”When we did the first part of the project, the kids adored it. Then we had parents emailing us about how fun the project was and how much their kiddos loved it.”

Drew was pleased with how authentically the older students were able to communicate the scientific concepts and how exuberant they were after the project was completed. “I wanted them to have fun, but also think about how we communicate these really complex ideas to people. We ended up with a more real audience and a more real kind of output.”

After the reading was over, Michaela and Laura asked the second graders to share what they’d learned. The Upper Schoolers were blown away with what their young partners retained. Senior Alfredo Rivas felt rewarded by making his book, “Climate Change and You,” because of the impact it had on the younger group. He said, “They're definitely going to remember this.”