Oxford Elementary fifth-grade students tackled some tough topics at the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Exhibition held May 16.
As part of the IB program, fifth-graders are required to participate in Exhibition, which is a culminating experience and opportunity to exhibit attributes developed during their time in the IB Primary Years Programme.
The students explored challenging topics such as human rights, poaching, climate change, substance abuse, pollution and poverty.
With the help of a mentor, students were challenged to identify, investigate and offer solutions to real-world issues or problems. For their projects, students conducted online research and interviewed experts on their topics.
One group, consisting of Megan Cashatt, Jack Curtis, Therese Godfryd and Skye Farahy, addressed environmental issues including the importance of recycling and eliminating pollution.
Cashatt explained to the audience the damage which can be caused to fish and other wildlife during oil spills. She said these incidents can make water unusable by humans as well.
“If the ocean is polluted, how will we get our seafood?” Cashatt asked.
Curtis explained the best way to reduce pollution in the world’s waters is to avoid pouring cleaning chemicals down the sink and reduce the amount of plastic waste used to prevent it from ending up in the ocean.
Students had to go one step further with their projects by creating an action plan to help combat the issues.
As part of their project, the group cleaned up trash found around their school.
Students were given the freedom to choose their projects based on the topics they were passionate about.
Eli Carpenter, Jamie Patterson and Ava Tarach gave their presentation on gun control.
The students had spoken with local police officers when learning how students can help prevent incidents of gun violence.
“He said kids should be vigilant (when it comes to knowing) their surroundings, pay attention to anything they see that’s suspicious and tell a teacher or adult right away, so we can stop school shootings before they happen,” Tarach recalled.
Tarach explained school shootings have become increasingly common since the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999.
“This was a problem back then and now and it still hasn’t been stopped and we need to help stop it.”
Carpenter explained that people should always report threats and suspicious activities to police and staff to help prevent tragedies before they happen.
“It’s very important because you don’t know. Maybe that shooter will actually do something and if you didn’t tell an adult, nobody will be ready for it,” Carpenter said. “People come back to life (in games), but . . . when (people) kill someone or hurt them in real life, they can’t come back to life.”
The students looked at several potential changes that have been suggested to help reduce gun violence including stricter regulations or raising the minimum age to own a firearm.
For their action plan, the group handed out orange bracelets at school, in support of Stoneman Douglas High School students who wore orange to protest gun violence following the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February.