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Marvin Elementary second grade students in the Ritenour School District finished a year-long project where they monitored Borneo rainforests through Earth Watchers and educated community members on the importance of understanding where purchased products originate. The Borneo palm oil project was one of several global learning opportunities that were supported by a $25,000 grant from The Boeing Company.

The Boeing grant provided Ritenour teachers with training at Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis to create innovative global learning opportunities for the students in the district.

LITTLE people make a BIG difference

Marvin Elementary StudentsThe students’ research gave them an understanding of why rainforests are important not only to support animals such as elephants and orangutans, but also to contribute to a healthy ozone. This research led them to spearhead a community awareness program that focused on preserving palm trees in the rainforests by teaching others to avoid candy and other products that use non-sustainable palm oil (from palm trees stripped from rainforests).

The awareness campaign began just before Halloween. The students urged their friends to read ingredient labels and avoid eating candy that had palm oil that caused deforestation. They continued their efforts throughout the year with PowerPoint presentations and short plays for other classes about the importance of the rainforests and what they could do to prevent deforestation.

As a result, the students collected more than 500 pledges from families and friends to avoid buying candy and other products that use non-sustainable palm oil in areas where deforestation occurred. They also encouraged their community to buy products from companies that supported using palm oil from trees that did not cause deforestation.

The second graders- who posted “little people make a big difference” on a board at school, also adopted a plot of land and monitored it online on a daily basis. No deforestation occurred in the area they monitored.

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