Timber Point Elementary teacher Jen Giordano’s environmentally conscious fifth-grade students, popularly known as “The Recyclinators,” were again declared New York State champions of the 2012 Disney Planet Challenge. This is the first time in the history of the nationwide competition that a school has won more than once.
The Disney Planet Challenge, a project-based learning adventure that empowers students to make a difference, intertwines hands-on learning with an existing curriculum. As New York State’s Planet Challenge winners, the Recyclinators were awarded eco-prize packs containing DVDs, CDs, water bottles and lunch totes.
To earn their first-place selection, the Recyclinators recycled batteries, water bottles, paper, juice pouches and cell phones, among other items. These ambitious fifth-graders also co-authored legislation with Rep. Steve Israel which would require stores to recycle alkaline batteries – the bill is currently under review in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additional Recyclinators achievements throughout the 2011-2012 school year include initiating a “Don’t Throw It in the Trash, Turn It into Cash” community recycling event, hosting a “Families Going Green” program at the East Islip Public Library, creating and selling reusable grocery bags and eco-calendars, presenting a student-run “America Recycles Day” slideshow, constructing a compost pile at the school and distributing reusable water bottles to the entire staff and student body at Timber Point.
“We were excited about teaching kids that they could make a difference,” said one of the students, Julia Ryan. Kyle DeLisi added, “The best part of the challenge was knowing that whatever ideas we came up with, we could do. Our principal, Dr. Belz, let us do everything we asked because she knew we were learning and making the world a better place.”