5 meaningful ways to make a difference this Earth Day

What a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to experience hands-on science experiments to teach your little scientists about the Earth and how to save it!

1. Learn about the water crisis

The water crisis is a major problem across the world, not only access to safe and clean water, but the amount of clean fresh water we have is depreciating rapidly.

Women are impacted significantly by the water crisis because most of their time is spent walking to collect fresh water for their families and in their traditional roles. Which limits their ability to pursue a career and contribute to household income. Check out this link to learn more about how women are impacted by the water crisis. https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/  

The experiment:

Teach kids about clean water by beginning with a trip to a local pond or natural water source to get a “dirty water sample.” Then, follow the water treatment steps using supplies you have at home!

Step 1: Coagulation and Sedimentation

Begin the cleaning process by using Alum (potassium aluminum sulphate) if you don't have this at home it can be found in the spice aisle. It is traditionally used in the pickling and canning process to keep the vegetables crunchy. The Alum forces the sediment to the bottom of the jar. 

Add a few tablespoons (or more depending on the size of your water sample) place the lid back on the jar and give the jar a good shake. Nothing will happen right way, so let the jar sit for a few hours.

In a real water treatment plant, the added Alum forms clumps with the dirt which are called "floc" and it pulls the floc down to the bottom of the basin (or jar).

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Step 2: Filtration

The next step in cleaning is typically to pass the water through a Sand and Gravel Filter.

If you can’t find any clean sand, you can find some gravel (make sure to use large and small pieces of gravel) outside and clean it with soap and water. Put the gravel into a clean berry container or a strainer. Make sure to place the berry container or the strainer over a bowl to catch the clean water. Pour the pond water sample over the DIY gravel filter. Try to pour the water out and leave the floc in the jar. 

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Look at the water sample after it has gone through the gravel filter, you may still see some small specks of dirt and this is a great time to talk about how the sand would have caught those small specks during the filtration process. If you don't have sand and want to continue to filter out the small particles you can use a coffee filter inside the berry container and pour the water over the filter. This will help catch those smaller particles. 

Earth day activities for kids. Educational experiments

The water should come out looking clean, maybe even good enough to drink?? (WE DON'T RECOMMEND DRINKING THIS WATER) This is a great time to talk about how even though the water may look clean and safe to drink there could still be things (like bacteria or parasites) in the water that we can't see but that could make us very sick if we drink it. 

3. Disinfection

Before we drink water from our tap it has been disinfected with a chlorine solution. For safety reasons we suggest to either boil the water and then pour it in back in the jar or you can skip this step and discuss how chlorine kills bacteria and parasites so we can drink the water without getting sick.

 

earth day activities for kids. Educational activities

The process made a huge difference to both the look (and the smell!) of the water sample. Don’t you think?

2. Recycle, recycle, recycle

Statistics show estimates that nearly 100,000 pounds of waste will be created from your very being over your lifetime, creating a substantial impact on environmental issues such as landfills, energy conservation, contamination and the diminishing of resources. Recycling is a practice that can be implemented in your day-to-day life that can help you maintain a green home and reduce your negative effect on the earth. Here are five recycling tips to help you out.

Ways you can help:

1. Start small, learning how to recycle properly can be overwhelming at first, you don't have to jump in 100% at first. Pick 1-2 things you want to recycle properly and then you can advance from there as you learn more information. 

2. Reduce the amount of single use plastic that you consume, pay attention to how things are packaged. Do you need to use all those plastic bags at the grocery store or can you replace them with cloth bags?

3. Reuse things multiple times before disposing of them. Wash out ziplock bags, containers and use them for food storage or crafts. 

4. Buy things that are made from recyclable materials. This helps support green businesses and reuse products that would otherwise be wasted. 

5. Make sure you wash and rinse out every container you put into the recycling. Sometimes if containers have too much food in them they will not get recycled. Its an easy and effective way to ensure the things you put in the recycling won't end up in the trash!

3. Garbage pick up

Every little piece of garbage that gets picked up helps save the planet. Even if it feels like it doesn't make a meaningful impact, it does! As we have experienced a pandemic over the last year and have had to be cautious of transmission and contamination of the virus on objects. We have reverted back to using single use plastics and garbage. There are disposable masks left everywhere. Let's put on some gloves and do a quick garbage clean up in your neighbourhood!

Earth day activities

4. Commute Less

One good thing the pandemic has done for the earth has been a massive reduction in the amount of people commuting in and out of the city everyday, reducing our carbon footprint. Hopefully in a post-pandemic world lots of jobs continue to operate out of people's home and we can continue to reduce the amount of commuting. Let's continue to make smart choices and walk or ride our bikes as much as possible. 

5. Teach children about their carbon footprint

The generally accepted definition of carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide, or greenhouse gases, produced as a result of our daily living. In other words, many things we do creates carbon dioxide, or greenhouse gases. If you add up the amount of emissions our daily activity produces you have an idea of the size of the impact we have on the environment.

This might seem like a hard concept for kids to understand, but when we started brainstorming a list of things we do that use energy and emit carbon dioxide the idea of a carbon footprint became a whole lot clearer.

Activity:

1. Paint a footprint on a piece of paper 

2. With a marker come up with a list of things they do every day that increase their carbon footprint (rides to school, leaving the lights on, flying in an airplane, using insufficient lights etc.)

3. Then write a list about ways you could reduce your carbon footprint (turn off hte lights, walk to school, travel less on an airplane)

What is your carbon footprint