Aiken Elementary's Green Steps Projects

Aiken Elementary is a certified South Carolina Green Steps school! Each year, we work on six projects that focus on conserving, protecting, and restoring our environment. In each project, students work with our community partners and mentors to "learn, do and teach" their classmates, families, and community about sustainable living. Please check out the projects below to learn about the wonderful things happening at Aiken Elementary!

A sneak peek into how we're using the outdoors to learn at Aiken Elementary with special thanks to Mrs. Swearingen (who made this amazing sign), Mr. Morlan (who put it up for us), and the Mitchell family (who donated the post)! We LOVE it!

Our 2019-20 school year was a busy one! Our inaugural Outdoor Classroom Club and many classes worked beautifully on our Green Steps projects! As we worked, we added updated pictures and notes, but each of these projects were works in progress as we left school for our closure due to COVID-19. We put our heads together and decided to take our learning home with the first (and hopefully not last!) AES Green Steps Spirit Week!

Our AES Green Steps Spirit Week Invitation!

Check out how we started our awesome projects at school and finished them at home with the help of our families and school community below!

Project #1: Classroom Gardens

Our Outdoor Classroom Club and some dedicated classes have been hard at work researching and planning their spring gardens! Unfortunately, we weren't able to finish planting when we left for closure due to COVID-19. We asked our school community to show us their gardens! Check out how our students and their families are putting their green thumbs to work!

Students at Aiken Elementary enjoy gardening in our Outdoor Classroom, which is just one of our gardening spots on campus. Each grade level has a garden plot to tend.

Check out this video showing how we got this project started at AES and how we finished it with our families at home!

Project #2: Reused and Upcycled Materials Art

Students at Aiken Elementary have many opportunities to get creative with upcycled materials-in the classroom, art room, makerspace...even during Cardboard Chaos Day! Here are some fun pictures of how we reused materials and celebrated Cardboard Chaos Day at AES!

Aiken Elementary participated in Cardboard Chaos Day! We started with over 200 pieces of upcycled cardboard and created all sorts of amazing art!
Ms. Ouzts' class got creative with upcycled paper towel tubes!
Ms. Gattis and Ms. Osborne's first graders made upcycled picture frames!
Ms. Green and Ms. Clifford's classes used upcycled boxes, tubes, and whatever else they could find to make beautiful cardboard sculptures!
Ms. Green and Ms. Clifford's classes also made an upcycled fort! They worked collaboratively with each group adding a new part until it was finished! They even remembered to add windows, pictures, and a remote control!

We were excited to include an Upcycled Art activity for our annual STEAM Night! Our kindergarteners even researched why reusing things is important and made information cards to hand out to everyone who came to STEAM Night! Unfortunately, we had to cancel STEAM Night due to COVID-19, so we asked our school community to help us finish this project at home. Check out this video to see how our students and families turned trash to treasure by making awesome upcycled bird feeders!

Project #3: Rain Water Collection

We were given our rain barrels during 2018-19 school year from our friends at Aiken Soil and Water. Mrs. Osborne's first graders put them together and even decorated them to get them ready for harvesting water!

We use our new rain barrels to learn and teach about protecting Earth's resources, like water!

During our 2019-20 school year, we found great places to put our rain barrels and they filled up fast! We had some wonderful experiments planned to see if gardens grew better with tap water or rain water we harvested from our barrels, but we were unable to finish them due to our closure from COVID-19. We asked our school community to help us finish the project during our AES Green Steps Spirit Week! Check out the video to see how our students and families created rain catchers to harvest some rain at home!

Project #4: Composting Areas

Aiken Elementary has many compost areas! We have a tumbler composter in our Outdoor Classroom and 4 vermicompost bins that 5th grade use to learn about decomposers and kindergarten uses to learn about compost as they garden.

A worm from one of our vermicompost bins!

Our kindergarten began composting leftovers from lunch each day and planned an experiment to see if gardens with compost grew better than gardens without compost. We also researched why composting is important and planned to exhibit our vermi bins at our STEAM Night! We even made information flyers to pass out to everyone who visited our exhibit! Unfortunately, we were unable to finish our experiment and hold our STEAM Night before our closure due to COVID-19. We decided to ask our families to help us finish our project by sharing how they compost at home during our AES Green Steps Spirit Week! Check out this video to learn about how AES makes compost happen!

Project #5: Outdoor Classroom and Campus Clean Up Days

We started the 2019-2020 year off right with our inaugural Outdoor Classroom Club, Dig in the Dirt Day, and our fall Outdoor Classroom Day!

Our Outdoor Classroom Club got right to work! Our club is made up of about 30 kindergarten-5th grade students who are enthusiastic and ready to take their learning outside!

Our Outdoor Classroom Club was busy planning for our 2019-20 Fall Outdoor Classroom Day! We took pictures as we explored and cleaned our Outdoor Classroom during our first club meeting!
We used our pictures to make posters to advertise our Outdoor Classroom Day and encourage everyone to take their learning outside! We found treasures from the Outdoor Classroom and gave them to every teacher to encourage them to join us outside, too!

We invited our school community to join us to Dig in the Dirt to prepare our Outdoor Classroom for fun and learning!

Dig in the Dirt, 2019! We removed TONS of invasive, exotic plants and trees from our water source, improved sight lines across the outdoor classroom for safety, and cleaned our trails and raised beds!
Dig in the Dirt, 2019! We removed TONS of invasive, exotic plants and trees from our water source, improved sight lines across the outdoor classroom for safety, and cleaned our trails and raised beds!
Project list complete! We're ready for Outdoor Classroom Day!
Outdoor Classroom Day was a success!!! A million thanks to everyone who helped get our outdoor classroom ready this year!
We even made Outdoor Classroom Day's Twitter Feed! So cool!!!

We added an activity to the AES Green Steps Spirit Week to celebrate our clean up projects! Check out the video to see how our Aiken Elementary school community shared their amazing adventures!

Project #6 Share Table

We brought our Share Table back for the 2019-20 school year! We found a new spot for it in our cafeteria during breakfast and lunch. It was off to a great start-until the freezer broke, that is. We waited and waited for the freezer to be repaired. As soon as the repairs were made our Share Table was back up and running! We decided that we may need to relaunch the Share Table with an information campaign. Our 2nd graders were all set to take on the project with the help of Ms. Nelson, our Media Specialist, but then our school closed for COVID-19. We plan to bring our Share Table back next year, so check back in with us to see it in action! And one more important note-we are so grateful for our cafeteria staff for making sure it was set up each and every day!

Thank you for visiting our site to learn more about the ways we are learning to conserve, protect and restore our environment through the South Carolina Green Steps program! Please check back to see how we continue to learn about sustainable living at Aiken Elementary!