More than 1,000 Students Celebrate Earth Day at the Capitol

TALLAHASSEE – Today the Department of Environmental Protection hosted Earth Day at the capitol to celebrate the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Florida’s school systems. Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott proclaimed April 22 as Earth Day 2013. Today, the Department held its official Earth Day celebration at the Historic Capitol Courtyard, at which more than 1,000 students, parents, teachers and community members participated.

“When it’s time to go back to your schools, start thinking of ways to help protect our environment with your classmates,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Greg Munson to middle and elementary school students. “Because we can’t wait until you graduate – we need everyone to help protect the nature around us right away.”

The activities and presentations were tailored to the Department’s 2013 Earth Day Event theme, Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors. Students were given the opportunity to design and build solutions to real world problems in STEM mini-challenges. Other activities included water rocket launches, a mobile aquarium and an iPad Augmented Reality Advanced STEM challenge. Despite occasional raindrops, the enthusiastic participants stayed to complete their projects and celebrate the protection of our environment.

Presentations focused on the importance of the Florida Green Schools Program and in keeping schools in the state green and healthy. Over the last four years, the Florida Green School Program has generated $36 million in gross cost savings.

This year’s Earth Day at the Capitol event also highlighted other accomplishments for the Florida Green School Network: the announcement of the nominees for the National Green Ribbon Schools Program and the opening of the Florida Green School Award Applications. In addition, the East Gadsden High School STEM Scholars were recognized for their academic performance as Florida Learns STEM Scholars Project participants.

Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. The first official Earth Day was held in 1970. With the mission of uniting the world toward a common cause of environmental protection and conservation, the United Nations observed the first global Earth Day with the annual ringing of the Peace Bell on March 21, 1971.

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