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5 activities to celebrate Earth Day in the classroom and beyond

Teachers · Posted by Alexa  April 13, 2022
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We at Quizlet believe every student can be an advocate for environmental justice. Combating climate change has been top of mind for many young people, and teachers are in the remarkable position to show this future generation of changemakers where to start. This Earth Day, educate and empower your students through informed action. From reducing unnecessary waste to organizing community events, there are so many ways to get your students excited about preserving the planet. Below we've put together a list of Earth Day activities perfect for both in the classroom and beyond!

1. Start a compost at school or home

What is compost? Compost is a mixture of organic materials that can be added to soil to help plants grow. There are three kinds of compost: aerobic, anaerobic, and vermicomposting. Compost can be created for farming, household, restaurant, and school use.

Here are some benefits of starting a compost:

  • Reduces the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Enriches soil for moisture retention
  • Reduces food waste
  • Decreases greenhouse gas emissions
  • Increases essential nutrients and microorganisms in the soil such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa

How to start a compost at home or school:

  1. Grab a white ceramic compost bucket
  2. Collect and add materials to start off your compost pile right. These can be vegetable scraps, dry leaves, straw, eggshells, grass and plant clippings, houseplants, shredded newspaper and cardboard, coffee grounds, fruit scraps, sawdust from untreated wood, hair and fur, coffee grounds, etc. Avoid using materials such as meat and fish (bones or scraps), fats/grease/lard/oils, dairy products, and pet waste from dogs or cats.
  3. Moisten dry materials, ensuring that larger pieces are chopped or shredded. If you would like, you can cover the top of the compost bin with a tarp to keep it moist.
  4. Continue to "feed" your compost. This can be with "green" materials like kitchen scraps and fresh plant materials or "brown" materials like dried plant matter. For best results, start building your compost pile by mixing three parts brown with one part green materials.

Watch “How To Make Compost At Home” to get inspiration!

2. Water quality lab investigation

This activity can serve as an introduction to the importance of testing water quality, using qualitative observations to determine pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, and phosphates levels. It's important to test the local water quality, as the presence of certain contaminants in our water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards and regulations for the presence and levels in public drinking water, known as the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), although some water contamination can still occur.

There are many possible sources of contamination, such as fertilizers, pesticides, sewage releases, naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, heavy metals, and malfuncted wastewater treatment systems. Those who use well water will often conduct water testing.

There are different water quality testing kits that students can use:

  • The LaMotte test kit is best for testing shallow water and contains supplies for performing dissolved oxygen tests and pH
  • The Universal Indicator solution (Flinn Scientific, 500 mL bottle, U0002) and color comparison chart
  • The Nitrate and phosphate test kits (there are several options depending upon available funds)
  • The Freshwater Pollution Test Kit
  • The Nitrate test kit (color cube model N1-11 or N1-14) and The Phosphate test kit (color cube model or PO-19) are available through
  • The PondCare Master Liquid Test Kit is available through

Other resources needed for the activity:

  • Basic laboratory glassware (beakers, test tubes) and safety equipment (splash goggles, gloves)
  • Teacher-provided water samples (bottled, tap, stream/creek/pond/river, and polluted)
  • Data table for student use (example below):

3. Write a letter to a representative

Students can use the below guidelines to craft letters to a government representative about an environmental issue in their community/neighborhood.

  • Date
  • Representative's Address
  • Salutation
  • Introduce yourself: your name, address, and school to identify that you are a constituent
  • Why are you writing your Representative?
  • Ask for a response
  • Thank your Representative for their time
  • Close with your name

You can also use this resource to help students with the process of writing a letter to an elected official.

4. Organize environment-friendly community events at your school

It is important to be environmentally friendly even at school! Here are some events that can be organized to promote the importance of improving our planet:

  • Campus trash clean-up
  • Create a community garden
  • Recycle drive
  • Host an environmental expert
  • Earth Day celebration or pep rally
  • Host a drive to collect e-waste
  • Design posters with Earth Day messages
  • Start an environmentalist club at school
  • Create a school podcast informing peers about environmental issues

5. Virtual field trips

Grab your phone and go! Taking virtual field trips allows students to travel the world so they can explore natural environments without leaving the classroom.

Visit The Nature Conservancy website to explore the following virtual field trips:

  • Changing Climate, Changing Cities
  • The Secret Life of Corals
  • Borneo: The Symphony of the Rainforest
  • View from a Canoe
  • Wild Biomes: America's Rainforests & Deserts
  • The Coral Reefs of Palau
  • China's Great Forests
  • Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy
  • Journey of Water: Colombia's Páramo
  • Peru: A Coastal Ecosystem
  • Ridge to Reef: A Virtual Field Trip to Hong Kong

Visit the EarthX website to explore the following virtual field trips:

  • Waste-to-Energy Facility Virtual Tour
  • Urban Trees and Climate Adaptation
  • Green Building Challenge
  • Virgin Hyperloop Experience
  • Sea Turtles and Their Ecosystem
  • Beyond the Dead Zone Pt. 2
  • Sustainable, Off-Grid Energy from Free-Flowing Rivers
  • Managing Invasive Species

To enhance the virtual field trip, students can use an affordable option called the Google Cardboard for a virtual reality (VR) experience. This minimalistic approach is the best VR headset on a tight budget.