In 2010, a second-grade class in Colorado took part in a Smithsonian online conference on environmental issues. One session was on the exploding population of deer in the United States, a subject that really hit home. Their town of about nine thousand had been overrun in the last few years by hundreds of mule deer.
The conference was one in a series that challenged students not only to learn about the environment, but also to take action to improve it. After researching the larger issue of deer populations and environmental change, the second-graders began looking for ways to educate the rest of the town and to offer possible local solutions.
In this issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, we tell their story in the hope that it will inspire you and your class to take on your own environmental challenge. In the first lesson plan, your students begin their research by interviewing people who live in the community. They ask about the state of the local environment—and how it has changed over the years—before deciding on a problem to tackle. The second lesson recounts the steps of the Colorado project, which might serve as a loose outline for your class's project.