Talking trash with students 'Garbology': Department of Public Works representatives visit Riviera Beach Elementary students to teach them about the environment, water and recycling.

April 19, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

It's not just reading, writing, and 'rithmetic anymore at Riviera Beach Elementary School. Now, there is the study of garbage.

Yesterday, students at the Pasadena school were visited by three members of the county Department of Public Works' Waste Management Services who taught them about the environment, water, and recycling -- all in the name of "garbology."

Unfortunately, most of the children had little idea what "garbology" is.

"I don't know," 11-year-old Patricia Chan, a fifth-grader, said when she was asked to define the word.

Second-grader Daniel Doris, 7, shook his head.

But a few students figured it out.

"I think it's about controlling your garbage and recycling," said fifth-grader Patrick Cook, 11.

That's exactly how "garbology" can be defined -- but there's more, said Beryl Friel, projects manager for the county's Waste Management Services.

"It's not just about landfill space," Ms. Friel said. "It's also about finite resources and energy conservation. It's about an ounce of prevention [being] worth a pound of cure."

Ms. Friel and two of her co-workers took part in a demonstration to educate the pupils about pollution and what they can do to help prevent it.

A group of second-graders gathered around Ms. Friel as she played a trash trivia game with them. The children were divided into two teams and answered questions from such categories as "Landfills," "Toxic Stuff" and "Waste Reduction."

Justin Butler's red team earned 100 points when Justin knew what lay beneath a landfill that people use every day. (Answer: water.)

Emily Seidl's yellow team edged the red team after Emily correctly answered a 200-point question: Which is made of a renewable resource; a glass jar, a newspaper, or a plastic bottle? The answer is a newspaper.

Stuart Nagy, a recycling project specialist, wowed the children when he showed them a box of worms that eat trash as it decomposes slowly on a compost heap. The trash might otherwise be taken to a landfill, where it would take up valuable space.

Many of the pupils were impressed with the efficiency of the worms.

"They help so that the soil doesn't get so dirty and so that it doesn't take up much room under the soil," said 8-year-old Amber Ebberts, a second-grader.

"They're all right," said Amber's classmate, Jessica Cook, 8. "They clean up the soil, but they're icky."

Never mind the cleanliness of the worms, Mr. Nagy said. The more important element was the chance to speak to the children.

"It's a great way to instill important recycling behavior in the kids while they're still young," he said. "When they become the decision-makers of tomorrow, they'll be educated, and they'll make the responsible decisions."

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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