Summit County elementary students tackle world problems with end-of-year projects |

Summit County elementary students tackle world problems with end-of-year projects

Frisco Elementary School is pictured Nov. 12, 2020. Fifth graders at the school will showcase their International Baccalaureate projects at a fair-style event from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at Frisco Elementary.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

From campaigns to clean up dog waste in local parks to solar powered cars, Frisco Elementary School students are working to solve global issues with their end-of-year projects.

For the first time in two years, the school’s 41 fifth grade students will be showcasing their International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program Exhibition projects in person Wednesday, March 16. The projects are a culmination of a year of research, classroom lessons and field trips into the community that all serve to teach the students about the world around them.

All six of Summit School District’s elementary schools are considered International Baccalaureate, which means students are required to create a project at the end of fifth grade to showcase what they have learned. In Frisco, students focused their projects around the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which chart a path for the world to achieve peace and prosperity through health, environment, education and gender equality.

The goals allow students to think globally and act locally, said Allison Lloyd, the lead fifth grade teacher working on the project in Frisco. In order to do that, students participated in a field day, where they visited the Surface Water Plant in Frisco, Town Hall in Breckenridge or the Summit County Animal Shelter in Frisco.

“Once we opened their minds and they were thinking globally, (the field day was) helping reground them in their community and see how things that are happening in their community can connect to these huge global goals,” Lloyd said.

For example, many of the students started their projects hoping to save the oceans, Lloyd said. However, after visiting the water plant, they were able to connect how cleaning rivers in Summit County can impact the overall health of the ocean.

In Breckenridge, the students learned about how they can use the local government systems to make a change in their community. And at the animal shelter, they learned the value of adopting pets rather than buying them from puppy mills or other inhumane breeders.

“While the ordinary citizen doesn’t feel like they can have an impact on global climate action, local government is really accessible to the everyday person,” said Jessie Burley, sustainability and parking manager at the town of Breckenridge. “We talked about how can students or residents get involved at the local level and then how can local governments … leverage bigger, broader change.”

It was the first time that the students were able to get back into the community since the pandemic pushed Summit School District into remote and hybrid learning models in 2020. When Frisco Elementary teachers reached out to members of the community about being involved in the field day, there was an overwhelmingly positive response, Lloyd said.

“It’s the first time in two years that we have been able to connect with our community in meaningful ways after two years of this being mostly a remote project that students did from their home and on the computer,” she said.

The opportunity to have students get out of the classroom is invaluable for their education and equips them with the tools to make a difference by solving local problems, Lloyd said. After the field day, many of the students developed projects that were targeted toward local issues.

One student created a website and posters to motivate people to pick up dog waste on local trails and parks. Another student is growing a garden to demonstrate the damage of deforestation.

The students will showcase their projects at a fair-style event from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday at Frisco Elementary. The public is invited to the event, where they’ll be able to ask students questions about their projects. Lloyd said she can’t wait to see the students showcase their projects after not being able to hold the event because of the pandemic.

“These kids, the last time they saw an exhibition presentation was in second grade,” she said. “It’s been tough because we’ve started over in defining what exhibition is, but it’s also been an opportunity for us to redefine what this project could look like and let it develop more organically, which has been really cool.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.