BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Around the world, and through Berkeley Heights Public Schools, people are celebrating Earth Day today. In most of our science classrooms, students and staff are participating in various Earth Day/Week celebrations on this important 50th Anniversary. Activities range from interactive ecology lessons in the Biology classes to outdoor investigations using the iNaturalist app in the 6th-grade science classes. 

Other examples of the innovative and exciting activities our students are involved in include students in Marcie Hall's 7th grade Science class at Columbia Middle School who were treated to a Zoom conference meeting with Luke Barnett, a wildlife photographer/videographer. He has worked on shows such as National Geographic’s "Earth Live," Netflix's "Night on Earth," and the BBC’s "Hidden Kingdoms of China." Additionally, he won a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for his work on BBC One's "The Hunt" for its opening program called "The Hardest Challenge." After watching clips of his work, students had the opportunity to zoom with Barnett and ask questions. According to Hall, "My students and I have spent several months focusing on animal adaptations and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Luke talked about specific animal behaviors, how animals adapt to changes around them (specifically on the Galapagos Islands) off the coast of Ecuador, and animal encounters he has had. He spoke with the students about the type of camera he uses, how he can go undetected, and special techniques used around specific animals.  Lastly, he focused on the goal of these documentaries, which is to introduce people to challenges animals face as a result of human activity, and how the world is changing around us." The students also had an opportunity to interview and ask Mr. Barnett questions to learn more about his work and his passion for the outdoors. 

Over at Governor Livingston High School, the environmental club, facilitated by Lara Mendenhall and Dr. Meredith Morgan, has set up activities and challenges for students to engage in every day this weekpdf. They include contests, learning about and improving local recycling practices, exploring and learning about their local habitat, and engaging in environmental activism activities. One of the most popular activities has been the Haiku Challenge. According to Dr. Morgan, "I thought this was a good activity because it can be done remotely and would not be intimidating (after all, getting a great Haiku is hard, but participating by writing 5, 7, and 5 syllables is easy). By making it a contest, with all the students and staff able to vote on their favorites (on Earth Day), it meant that as a community we would be taking some time to read some of our members' contributions and think about what Earth Day means in this difficult and historic time." The GL Environmental Club Earth Week Haiku Challenge will select winners in the following categories: Most inspiring, most uplifting, most resonant, funniest, and receiving the most votes for whatever reason. Winners will be announced on April 23rd and have their submissions published on TAPinto Berkeley Heights and win a gift card.   

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Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

More information about Mr. Barnett can be found on his website here: