Collision and Collaboration in Grade 6

Jan 16, 2019 | All School, Middle School News, MV Mag Issue 4, PBL/IBL

Relevance Makes Learning Come Alive

Learning beyond the classroom walls has become a norm at Mount Vernon and expeditionary learning, or expeditions, are a mainstay of what we believe to be a core element to build empathy, create exposure, work collaboratively and cultivate a deeper understanding than can be found simply in a textbook. When crafting an expedition, teachers often don’t quite know the full effects of the experience, beforehand: What kind of work can be produced from this trip?  How will this connect across subjects? What will draw the students in?

This kind of approach, one in which the teachers keep an open mind to outcomes, while observing the students discover what excites them, helps maneuver projects in a way that keeps students engaged and interested; the results can be powerful with amazing results and impressive student work. No better example can be found in the Middle School, specifically in grade 6, after an expedition to the Johns Creek Environmental Campus (JCEC). The JCEC is a unique facility combining state-of-the-art wastewater treatment technology with an educational component. The 5-acre facility is located on a 43-acres in the City of Roswell adjacent to the Chattahoochee River and can treat up to 15 million gallons per day (MGD).  And when all 90+ grade 6 students visited the facility, the experience created a lasting impression that many students back to Mount Vernon’s campus and led one student to the State Capital.

From Campus to Capital

Protecting the Environment

As a follow-thru to the JCEC trip, grade 6 Grammar teacher, Jayne Liu presented her students with the opportunity to enter the 17th Metro Water District’s Middle School Essay Contest for 6, 7, and 8th grade students. Using strategies learned while touring JCEC for water supply and conservation, watershed and wastewater management, and how water must be cleaned, recycled, and managed properly, students had the perfect background to approach the contests prompts:

  • What is stormwater pollution?
  • What impact does it have on the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams?
  • What can we do about it?

The essay contest invited students from 15 counties as well as the city of Atlanta with winners receiving $100 dollars and the district winner and runner-up receiving $400. We are proud to present our own Mary Ellen Reagin as the winner from the City of Atlanta.


Mary Ellen Reagin, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
Winner – Metro Water District’s Middle School Essay City of Atlanta

Many people claim that when they litter it does not affect the water. But the truth is, it does. Water is something we need daily. If you weren’t allowed to use water as much as you normally do, what would you do? We need water. Stormwater pollution can ruin that if it gets really bad. Stormwater is the water that comes down when it rains. It comes down rooftops, down streets, and eventually into the drain where it goes off to the rivers, this is called runoff. On the way to the river stormwater collects tons of dirt and trash and chemicals and oils. “When it rains it drains” is a quote by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District that means any pollution left outside in the rain will be brought to the river.

We are very bad at keeping our streams clean and this is because of us not taking care of the environment. We need to be working harder to keep the land clean from pollution like, animal waste, cleaning products, litter, etc. because when rain falls it affects the water. Point source pollution is pollution that is always happening like pollution that comes from a factory where there is always pollution coming out of the factory. Nonpoint Source pollution is pollution that comes from water runoff after it hits the ground it picks up natural human made pollution. Most streams in the U.S. don’t meet standard requirements for streams because of stormwater pollution. Stormwater pollution can make the water unsafe and make swimming and fishing unsafe and can hurt and/or kill animals living in the wild.

We are so bad at keeping our streams clean that we are even being told by the government. This might be a clue we need to get our streams in better shape.

There are more than one effects pollution has on the world, streams, and people another one is pollution makes it harder for Steam Cleaning Plants to clean our water for us to drink and use daily. Stormwater pollution gets into the stream so the water we drink comes from plants that take in stream water. Stormwater pollution then makes drinking water more difficult and more costly to clean. We need to help clean our water because most of us don’t know how to live without drinking water. Water is used to drink, clean you, clean dishes, clothes, and water is used to have fun. Think about it: we can help the environment just by not littering, it’s that easy. So why don’t we clean up after ourselves.

There are tons of ways we can help save our water. If every single person threw away one piece of litter a day our world would already be much cleaner. One way we can make the environment cleaner is by keeping your pool clean to prevent draining often. Or throw dog waste and animal waste in the trash not the lawn. Another way is to not spill oil when you are filling up your car. You may also try to use a car wash service that reuses water rather than disposing water. If you ever cook you can dispose oil and grease in the trash instead of pouring them down the drain. Lastly you might want to try to dispose of cleaning products rather than pouring them down the drain. Cleaning water starts with us being more mindful of our pollution. Just by picking up one piece of litter you can make a huge impact on the environment.

On The Ground

While students were working on a policy approach to environmental change in Jayne Liu’s grammar class, the work was reinforced by time in the field with Susan Oltman. For several weeks, students walked both campuses to survey areas of storstorm wateroff and prototype solutions. The full depth of the project can be viewed here, on the Mount Vernon blog and below are extensive photos of their process: Students Survey Campus For Erosion Control


“How Might We Mitigate Stormwater Runoff on Our Campus?”

To design erosion prevention rain gardens across low lying areas of our campus to conserve soil, clean stormwater runoff, and beautify neglected areas