"Toward the end of 2015, I was thinking about what I was going to do (for the Gold Award project), and in December (the United Nations) had the climate change convention in Paris," Mundaden said. "President Obama said climate change was very bad, and we didn't want to leave behind a planet beyond repairing. I thought it was important since everyone was talking about it that kids should know about it, too."
To kick start the project, Mundaden organized an Earth Day event at Donlon Elementary School. Dubbed the Eco Expo, Mundaden had fourth- and fifth-graders cycle through six stations centered around subjects like composting, climate change and water conservation.
The Foothill student continued her project this fall by setting up "earth clubs" at four Pleasanton elementary schools -- Donlon, Hearst, Mohr and Walnut Grove.
Ranging in size with roughly 10 to 40 students participating at each school, teachers run the clubs using an activity handbook developed by Mundaden. The handbook contains ideas for recycled art projects, a climate change simulation experiment and other curriculum meant to improve students' environmental conscious.
Students meet weekly or monthly, depending on the club.
"They love learning about the environment and getting their hands dirty," Mundaden said.
Michele Pollack, a fifth-grade teacher who is one of two running Donlon's earth club, said that Mundaden has done "such a great job."
"She is such an inspiration, and her project is so perfect for this grade level," Pollack said. "As we discuss world issues and get our students to be active citizens, her projects and her ideas are perfect."
Mundaden said she hopes that through her project, Pleasanton kids will learn the importance of environmental stewardship.
"We only get one planet Earth, so you have to protect it as much as you can," she said. "I want that to stick with them for the rest of their lives and (I want them to) pass that on."
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