Fifth-Grade Project To Focus on Climate Action

24 Oct 2017
ByMansi Vasa, Ethical Culture Ethics Teacher

A tradition of the EC fifth grade is a yearlong service-learning project that culminates with a gift of action guided by the principle of thinking globally and acting locally. The process begins in fifth-grade ethics, as students consider what unites us as human beings and which global issues are at the forefront for human beings today. Fifth graders learned about the UN's Global Goals for Sustainable Development and noticed that the goals were focused on tackling issues related to extreme poverty, climate change, inequality, and injustice. Students thought about which issues they see impacting New York City and took a vote on which area we should focus our efforts. This year, the fifth graders will be supporting Global Goal 13: Climate Action.

One student said: "I think climate action is important because, under certain conditions, the world can become uninhabitable, and this is the first step from letting that happen to preventing it. In a city like New York, it is important to take action because we produce a lot of greenhouse gases that chip away at the ozone layer every day, which makes the process speed up." Another student noted, "All of these global issues are important, but this issue impacts the whole world, all of humanity. We can't solve world hunger or achieve gender equality without a place to live."

The students are now fully engaged in a process of inquiry and research, because ECFS believes that activists need to be informed in order to raise awareness and take meaningful action. Through a series of Community Times, the fifth graders have asked more than 100 questions about climate change, global warming, local impact, energy sources, and more. Students are wondering:

  • Are climate change and global warming the same thing?

  • How is climate change impacting New York City?

  • How is climate change impacting bird migration and other wildlife?

  • What can we do to conserve our water supply, use clean energy, and waste less?

As students research to find answers to their questions, they have discovered local organizations that are tackling climate change in New York City. The grade has voted to support 350 NYC, a local affiliate of, a global grassroots network of local groups working in more than 188 countries to solve the climate crisis. participates in global climate campaigns and works locally with a coalition of allied organizations for a cleaner, greener New York for all. Over the next several months, fifth graders will continue to learn about the impact of climate change on New York City to both raise awareness about 350 NYC and share tips regarding how we can make changes in our school community and everyday lives to support this cause. Stay tuned!