Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Deaf students use science class to educate community

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Environmental science students at the Maryland School for the Deaf are educating their school and the Frederick community on the environment, one project at a time.

Every week, a dozen students in Dina Raevsky’s environmental science class create a project around a topic, conduct research, and then present their findings to the community through fliers, posters and other media.

The class spends two school days on the project, while the other days are spent learning curriculum from textbooks and labs.

‘‘We want to make sure we give back to the community,” Raevsky said on Tuesday. ‘‘We want to make a difference.”

This week, the class is discovering, through online research, which household products are or are not environmentally friendly. By researching a company name — for example, Proctor and Gamble — the students determine if popular household cleaning products are ‘‘green” or contain no phosphates, chlorine or dyes. Green household cleaning agents are also biodegradable, non-toxic and aren’t tested on animals.

During Tuesday’s class, Rachael Richart, a freshman, said through an interpreter that her classmates would post fliers to educate the community about which household products are environmentally friendly.

The students also used fliers and posters for last week’s project that determined which foods were best to feed birds and squirrels. Raevsky said her students discovered the idea for the project after noticing that many people were feeding ducks bread in Baker Park and wanted to do something about it.

Bread is the worst food to feed ducks and other birds, the students said, because it expands in the feathered animals’ esophagus and could choke them. The students also discovered that the destruction of natural habitats is threatening birds’ survival.

Sunflower seeds, suet, corn and acorns are the best foods for birds and squirrels, said Jonathan Withrow.

The class displayed its findings on the wall near the school’s main office and spread 50 fliers around the school and on Market and East streets in Frederick.

The class is also working on plans to create recycling bins for each classroom at the Maryland School for the Deaf as well as Earth Day activities in April for the community, Raevsky wrote in e-mail to The Gazette.