Students follow the beat of recycling bin

School marks Earth Day with chants, quizzes and events


The Aqsarniik Iliniarvik middle school in Iqaluit vibrated with cheers holding a special message last Thursday.

“Turn off the lights, walk not drive, recycle, compost —We’re the best team, We don’t pollute,” cried the group of middle school students, called “the Huskies,” while beating on blue recycling bins instead of drums.

This was just one of the many ways that Iqaluit students in Grades 5, 6 and 7 marked Earth Day 2004 — a day intended to raise awareness about the environment.

Aqsarniik’s Environment Club, whose members have been working on recycling and composting projects, directed its energies to organizing an event-filled day, and its members served as animators for the day’s activities.

The entire school participated in Earth Day. First, they divided into teams that included the Huskies, Inuksuit, Uppiks, “Sheila’s super-smelly swamp stalkers,” Ulluriaqs, Tsunamis and Ptarmigans.

During the day, each group had a chance to work on four activities. In one class, students worked on making individual squares for a giant quilt inspired by Earth Day. They made bright designs for their squares, which depicted the earth as well as Arctic animals and scenes.

Others created works of art — or, in one case, a neat toy vehicle — out of recycled materials such as pop tops, foil and milk cartons.

“What happens to the oil spill?” was the question another group considered as they put soap into a paper plate filled with coloured oil and water.

“It’s eating it up!” “Soap is very powerful!” said the kids.

They also sliced open apples, which provided a chance to discuss how thin the earth’s surface is.

During an environmental Jeopardy-style game, the participants showed a surprising amount of knowledge about the environment. The questions for the mock quiz show were drawn from four categories: land, air, water and the “four R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle, rebuy).

Students tackled the following questions: “Name an endangered whale in Nunavut” (the bowhead), “Can we recycle paper in Iqaluit?“(yes), “Name the greenhouse gas emitted when a vehicle is operated” (Co2), “What is it called when fossil fuels mix with snow or rain?” (acid rain).

Points were given for successful answers and were tallied up at the end of the day.

Not all the Earth Day’s activities were intellectual — the teams also took their turns in the gymnasium, where they had a vigorous workout imitating muskoxen, caribou and other animals.

And in one classroom, to drive home the point of how all parts of the environment are interrelated, students attempted to sit on each other’s laps. The ones in a line tumbled down, while the ones who were in a circle carried it off.

Since its beginnings back in 1970, Earth Day has tried to carry that off by raising awareness about the environment.

On April 22, 1970, demonstrators carrying dead fish and a long-expired octopus paraded in front of a power company in Florida. The plant, they charged, was releasing water heated to nearly 100 degrees into a nearby bay, causing heavy fish kills.

Earth Day was the idea of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who thought if large numbers of students could mobilize against the Vietnam War, then they could organize a national teach-in about the environment.

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