053: Ben Kerchner with Styrofoam Stoppers
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South Lakewood Elementary School "Styrofoam Stoppers"
As part of Cris Sorency's literacy class at South Lakewood Elementary, students studied the art of persuasion. Then, they put it into action!
Hear from Ben Kerchner, who just graduated from fifth grade at South Lakewood Elementary and how their class, the "Styrofoam Stoppers", worked to get their school to stop using 2,000 Styrofoam trays per week in the school cafeteria. The school is located in Jefferson County School District in Colorado.
In the spring of 2018, Mr. Sorency was teaching literacy to his sixth graders. In the persuasion unit, his students read in one of the texts about students who started a petition on Change.org and successfully got Dunkin Donuts to stop using Styrofoam.
The students then got the idea to use persuasion to get their school to stop using Styrofoam trays in the cafeteria. The "Styrofoam Stoppers" began a petition on Change.org and began doing research. Yet, with only a couple months to work on it before school was out, the 2018 class wasn't able to accomplish their goal.
So, when the 2019 fifth-grade class began studying persuasion with Mr. Sorency, he informed them of the efforts of the previous year. The 2019 class picked it up. The 25 Styrofoam Stoppers created a board game, a coding game, and put up posters to persuade everyone in the school and the parents to support their initiative.
In April of 2019, the Styrofoam Stoppers presented their research and ask and gave a performance with puppets and humor to Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul, the city’s sustainability manager Jonathan Wachtel and other community members.
In May 2019, the students heard that the school would be transitioning from Styrofoam trays to reusable plastic trays. The trays that had been in use in prior years were relocated and put to use for three grades before the end of the school year. It's expected that the reusuable trays will be expanded for all classes in the school in the coming year.
In August 2019, Ben Kerchner and other former Styrofoam Stoppers will head to Creighton Middle School and elsewhere.
My message to those schools: If you're still using Styrofoam or have areas that could be improved, get ready. These kids now know how to make change happen. It all starts with using the art of persuasion to go for what you believe in.
"It's better if you do it than being afraid. Not only will it help the cause, but it might help you. If you're scared, you might become less scared. It will be a good thing for you and your community."
- Ben Kerchner
- Mr. Sorency's Class on Twitter: @ssorency
- Styrofoam Stoppers' Petition on Change.org
- School's Styrofoam Stoppers Accomplish Their Mission, Joseph Rios, Lakewood Sentinel (May 1, 2019)
"It's definitely a better thing to do it, than not do it. You never know how big of an impact it could have and how much it could change something."
- Ben Kerchner
Sign Joan's Change.org petition to demand that President Donald J. Trump learn the basics about climate change by attending a three-day training program with the Climate Reality Project.