Project-Based Learning: Using Baseball to Practice Environmentalism
By Brittany Murro, iSTEM and Gifted & Talented Teacher
Spring is a magical time in our little town of Tabernacle, located right in the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. With spring comes the promise of beautiful weather, a rebirth in nature, and the hope of more time spent in the great outdoors. And if you are a Tabernacle Elementary School student, spring means it’s Recycled Baseball season!
Recycled Baseball has become a favorite tradition in Tabernacle. Starting as an Earth Day activity, it has quickly expanded into a full-blown, cross-curricular thematic unit that is adored by staff and students alike.
Recycled Baseball is a green and Earth-focused spin on the typical game of baseball. Students design, create, and build all of the equipment and materials needed for the game of baseball. However, students are only allowed to use recycled materials (with the help of our favorite adhesive, duct tape, of course). Each class transforms into its own baseball team, creating its own themed team names and slogans. Then, the students get to work making their bats, balls, bases, team posters, cheerleading gear, and more!
Throughout the unit, students learn the history of baseball and read lots of baseball books. They even learn common baseball terminology in Spanish! Students practice baseball-themed songs that they can sing and use to cheer for their teams on Game Day. They artistically draft their blueprints and create their gear following the steps of the Engineering Design Process. Recycled baseball is a comprehensive project that truly promotes student voice and choice at its core.
On Game Day, students get to showcase, share, and use all of their created gear and equipment! Sometimes, students even make some final improvements and adjustments as they use their gear based on how it works in the game. At the conclusion of Game Day, students get to take their gear home with them, and it’s always amazing for students to see how many repurposed items were kept out of landfills as a result of this project.
Here’s an example of the letter we send home to parents, to inspire your spin on the project:
Many students have shared that this project has helped them jumpstart their own recycled sporting events at home with their families, and we are hoping you will do the same!
Brittany Murro received a BA in Education and a BA in Writing Arts from Rowan University. She currently teaches in Tabernacle, NJ and was named was named Tabernacle Elementary School’s Governor’s Educator of the Year in 2014–2015 and 2021–2022.
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