Cycle Savers is an intriguing, hands-on, earth education program for elementary school classes based on a mystery code and club theme. Students decipher the lost manual of the Cycle Savers Club, which launches them on an intriguing adventure to appreciate, understand, and respect the cycles of life through an action-packed day trip to a local park. They return home to complete the final code which takes them on a journey to discover how their household is affecting the environment and what they can do to make a difference.
Cycle Savers includes pre-trip class preparations, a one-day outdoor adventure in a local wild park, and a series of follow-up activities to be completed at school and at home. Trained high school leaders or community volunteers, supervised by a professional coordinator, do much of the leadership of the outdoor adventure with small groups, utilizing a detailed curriculum designed by the HRM Adventure Earth Centre. Through the program, students…
- Increase appreciation and wonder for the natural world and wild habitat.
- Appreciate the importance and fragility of the air, water, and soil cycles for habitats.
- Understand the basic components of the air, water, and soil cycles.
- Assess their households’ impact on the cycles and generate ideas to reduce it with their families.
- Take practical steps in their lives to reduce their impacts on the three cycles.
A videotape interview with an elder of the Cycle Savers Club introduces the adventure to the class. The Elder explains the history of the Club, the Rings of Life (the air, water, and soil cycles), and the importance of getting new members, particularly young people. He invites the class to join the club by taking on the challenge of deciphering the four Codes of the Cycle Savers. The Elder sends them a “Club Guide” which is used by the students to help them with the challenges. It has a chapter devoted to each challenge that ends with a coded statement that the students must decipher to move on to the next challenge. The small groups begin the first task in the classroom, which is to come up with a creative skit to express the importance of clean air, fresh water, and healthy soil.
The students share their creative performances at the beginning of the outdoor trip with the lead members of the Club who help them during the day. They receive the clues and decipher the first Code of Sight (to see the importance of air, water, and soil to them).
Next they take on the Challenge of Discovery through learning and practicing some of the “lost arts” that the elders use for exploring and appreciating nature. They participate in a series of nature exploration activities to meet this challenge. They discover miniature wild gardens of plant life on the forest floor. They search for hidden faces and shapes in the trees and rocks. They become imaginary sniffing beasts with an acute sense of smell. They explore and get to know a beautiful, small patch of woods up close. This experience gives them the clues to decipher the second Code of Discovery before lunch.
The afternoon is devoted to the challenge of understanding the air, soil, and water cycles through a series of hands-on adventures. They become air spec superheroes with appropriate capes and are shrunk to become atoms in the air. They then blow through the air cycle with the leader narrating and the crew acting out the imaginary change process. They are breathed in by a squirrel and sucked up into a leaf. After the experience, they review what happened and trace the path of the air in a codebook that they each receive to record their learning. The water cycle activity involves a relay race in which they must transport water, without losing it, through a simulated water cycle. For the soil cycle, they become scavengers in the forest, attempting to turn up as many different living things in each stage of the soil cycle as possible.
Finally, during the afternoon each crew plays an active game of “Human Impact”, which simulates the process of human beings introducing pollutants into the cycles and a group of Cycle Savers trying to intercept and remove them.
Taking Action to Help the Cycles
After the Human Impact game, the small groups discuss what they can do in their lives to reduce their impact on the three cycles. Their final challenge is to take action. Their codebook outlines a simple process through which they can audit their household impact with respect to maintaining clean air (energy conservation). fresh water (water conservation and use of biodegradable products), and healthy soil (reducing garbage so that materials are returned to the soil cycle). They audit their present behaviours with the help of a parent and then come up with one action that will reduce their impact on each cycle. Once their actions have been completed at home, they receive the clues to the final Code of Action and their attractive Cycle Savers badge back at school. They are full members of the club who appreciate and understand the three cycles, and have taken action to reduce their impact on them.