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Psychology Students Teach Second-Graders about Conservation

Professor Deirdre Yeater’s students show Milford children the importance of kindness to the environment

Psychology students and St. Mary School second-graders pose for a photo following a beach clean-up.

Throughout Sacred Heart University’s spring semester, students in the conservation psychology course worked with second-grade youngsters from St. Mary School in Milford on creating a more sustainable future.

Conservation psychology deals with the importance of environmental education and applying positive psychology and social psychology research and knowledge to the conservation of nature, according to Professor Deirdre Yeater.

Yeater’s students researched and developed ideas for teaching the young children and then, one day in April, they met with the second-graders. They worked in small groups on various environment-focused games.

“They worked on recycling facts and matching games,” Yeater said. “A climate change bingo challenge used climate change knowledge and ideas of pollution prevention. This included a written pledge which encouraged the children’s sense of responsibility and stressed the importance of individual behavior or action as it’s related to social psychology.”

Yeater’s students also taught the children about managed nature and the importance of zoos and aquariums. To apply and demonstrate biodiversity further, Yeater said, the group went to a coastal clean-up day May 3 at Gulf Beach in Milford. Each SHU student helped two children clean up trash on the beach. The second-graders were interested in the work, according to the professor and one of her students, senior Alena Gonsalves, a psychology major.

“When looking across the beach during the clean-up, I saw smiles everywhere from children, knowing they are helping the environment,” said Gonsalves. “It is the littlest things one can do that are important to make a big change in conservation attitudes and perceptions.”