A group of second graders from Purdy Elementary School made waves this past week after raising over $1,000 for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation by selling cups of lemonade to their friends at recess.
Wanda Angus’s second grade class spent five weeks, rain or shine, outside at recess selling homemade lemonade for 50 cents a cup. The last day of sales was Friday, June 8. Total raised: $1,004.38.
“There has been a great response to this,” Angus said. “We’ve had a lot of parents and volunteers help the students. They are also learning financial literacy.”
Angus said the students were learning about the ocean and the Great Barrier Reef in their class when they heard news about the bleaching of the reef.
"When we found out about the coral bleaching, they really wanted to do something,” Angus said. “So this was the perfect thing to do.”
When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae living in its tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching, according to the National Ocean Service. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Coral can survive a bleaching event, but it is under more stress and subject to mortality.
Angus has been teaching first and second graders at Purdy Elementary School for 15 years. She said the best part of teaching the younger students is watching them grow and learn about social skills and community. Angus doesn’t usually teach about the Great Barrier Reef, but one student named Hattie chose to do a project on the Galapagos Islands, which led the class to a great interest into the ocean.
“When we found out about the bleaching, the students want to learn everything they could about the reef,” Angus said. “They are so passionate about it.”
Angus helped come up with the idea for the lemonade stand because the students are reading “The Lemonade War” by Jacqueline Davies. Angus is also teaching the students basic math and finances, so the stand is a great way to work all three areas into one big project.
Hattie, whose last name has been omitted, said she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up.
“I love the ocean and all the animals,” Hattie said. “I think it’s sad what’s happening to the reef because a lot of animals live and eat there. I would be sad to lose my home.”
According to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s website, human influences resulted in a 50-percent decline in coral cover between 1985 and 2012. Some of the biggest threats to the reef include:
- Climate change, leading to coral bleaching, more extreme weather events and ocean acidification.
- Poor water quality from land-based run-off leading to impacts like outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish.
- Coastal development which affects habitats that support the reef and produces damaging urban run-off, litter and marine debris.
- Illegal fishing and poaching.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet, so big it’s visible from space.
“(The reef) is the size of about 70 million football fields or the size of Japan or Italy,” the foundation’s website states. “It eclipses the world number two, the Caribbean’s Belize Reef, which is a mere 290 km long.”
The reef includes 1,625 species of fish, over 600 types of hard and soft corals, 215 species of birds, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, 30 species of whales and dolphins, 14 species of sea snakes and six of the world's seven species of marine turtle, according to the website.
Hattie, with the help of her mom Pamela, worked with Angus to have the lemonade stand set up outside the school during recess for over a month. The students set a goal for $1,000, which meant selling at least 2,000 cups of lemonade to students, teachers and parents. Angus said many children just donated to the fund without buying lemonade or paid more than the required 50 cents.
“It’s so wonderful to see children come with such big hearts,” Angus said.
Students also learned how to count money and the basics of running a business.
“They have learned everything from not drinking their profits to manners when working with people, and a work ethic,” Angus said.
Madison Delgado and Mikayla Riggs, both in Angus’s class, said they learned a lot about math from Angus’s class.
“I learned that it's kinda risky to invest your money,” Riggs said. “But that’s its 99 percent safe to put it all in the bank.”
The girls said they were also excited to be raising money for the foundation.
“We wanted to find a way to save it from coral bleaching,” Riggs said.
“It’s really fun to do it, and we are saving the Great Barrier Reef,” Delgado said.