Educational videos from Union Street Charter School’s fourth grade class.

Union Street Charter School’s fourth grade students would like you to take on a more active role in sustainability, please.

“People use a lot of plastic, and it is ending up in the ocean,” says Annaka, a Union Street Charter fourth grader. Follow classmate Nico adds: “Sea animals are eating the plastic, and it is killing them.”

Put simply: “If we stop using plastic, then more animals will live.”

Along with their classmates, Annaka and Nico are working on the plastic pollution problem. To spread awareness, the two made a public service announcement using Adobe Spark, a media creation application, by layering music, voiceover and images.

The goal “was to help students identify a problem facing the world today and then give them the agency to be a part of the solution,” their teacher, Greg Gaiera, told the Outpost.

Other students in the class wrote letters to local restaurants asking them to reduce plastic use, created posters explaining the problem and suggesting solutions, and organized a beach clean up at Moonstone beach later this month. Everyone in the class identified personal changes they can make to reduce their own plastic use, Gaiera said.

The class also created digital books about sea turtles using Book Creator, which are crammed with neat turtle facts. (Like how the temperature of the nest where a turtle lays her eggs influences sex determination, so mother turtles are mindful of the depth of their nests in effort to balance male and female babies. Who knew? “Sometimes you just gotta give some credit to how much work mother sea turtles put into laying eggs,” wrote student Mahina in one of the books.) Learn more by reading the students’ books here!

Gaiera based the projects around an international sea turtle education project, which is in collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using tools like Adobe Spark in education is a COVID adaptation new to Gaiera.

“I have been teaching for 20 years, but I very much feel like a first-year teacher and as much as it pains me to ask kids to sit on screens for longer and longer periods of time, I feel that learning and using new digital platforms keeps things engaging for them,” Gaiera said.

Gaiera hopes that incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals into the curriculum will help students build a connection to the greater natural and societal world.

“I believe that the major problems that we face in the world today have to be solved with a global perspective by people that really feel like they can be a part of the solution,” he said. “This project is a step in that direction.”

So go watch the PSA’s, read the books and join these small and tech savvy environmentalists in the solution. If you do, “you could see animals living a happy life,” says Ava, who created a PSA with her classmate Silas. “You could see them play. I mean, who doesn’t want that?”