Dr. Jane Goodall proclaimed: “Every individual matters, every individual has a role to play, every individual makes a difference.” The actions and choices of students at North Haven School have exemplified this statement as Grade 3/4 students have been engaged in a cross-curricular study into the effects of technology production on the gorilla population of Democratic Republic of Congo.
In collaboration with Chevron Open Minds Zoo School, they have done a year-long investigation with connections to social studies, science, literacy and math. Specifically, they learned about coltan, used to produce cell phones, and the environmental impact of mining the mineral.
Students began their learning journey through a novel study of Goodall’s "My Life with the Chimpanzees". They learned to document their observations just like her and applied their knowledge by observing the animals at the Calgary Zoo.
The students became impassioned citizens who have learned their opinions matter and they can change the world around them. To take action, students wrote letters to local businesses and asked for donations of used cell phones. There were many responses to the letters. Some of the donors proudly delivered boxes of cell phones and attended a celebration focused on student learning. One donor tweeted, “we’re proud to hear about North Haven’s journey and the conservation efforts they’re sharing with their city and the Zoo.”
As North Haven students developed their voices as concerned, impassioned and ethical citizens they continued to learn that their individual efforts can make a difference. They have also learned that, as a group, they can take big actions to make big changes.
The students are currently engaged in the design-thinking process to build a sculpture out of the used cell phones they have collected to be displayed at the Calgary Zoo. The sculpture will be part of the Zoo’s awareness campaign about the effects of coltan mining. Look for their unique gorilla structure the next time you visit Calgary Zoo!