In December, right before the holidays, students in my grade 5 class followed their heart and inquired into plastic water bottle sales that were happening at school. The high school Business Studies class students were selling water bottles to make money. I think their goal was to create a business and make a profit.
The students in my class and I didn’t like it so we considered what to do about it. At that time, students decided to research plastic water bottles detrimental effects and create a presentation to show the Business Studies class. It went well. For more detail on December’s inquiry, see Pursuing Inquiry Action .
After the holidays, the Business Studies didn’t return to selling water bottles, and my students thought they were victorious. However, several weeks ago, the boys returned to the hallway with a table of sandwiches and a few water bottles. They appeared to have taken a different turn and were now focusing on sandwiches as the main item, with a water on the side.
We talked in class if students would support them. Some liked the idea they had turned to sandwiches. Others said no, they were still selling water bottles, so no. Everyone decided to let the business go on and see what happened.
This week, things changed. The Business Studies students came back with a table of water bottles–some large, some small and two different prices. It was the same water from before: Kirkland water from Costco. They had rows and rows of water for sale for 50 yen and 100 yen (pretty cheap).
Students were angry. A few asked why they were doing it when they had supposedly said they wouldn’t sell water. They told my students: “Welcome to the real world.”
As can be expected, that didn’t go over well. We brainstormed options. The students decided they would sell ice cream to counteract sales. An interesting proposition. They decided, though, they needed immediate action.
Today, they made signs of protest and stuck them on cardboard sticks. The signs read: “The Earth is crying” or “Water is free. Use the water fountain.” “Save the oceans.”
I talked with them about doing a silent protest and just holding up signs. They stood near the table, but not in front of it (as to not block customers). They did well. What brave kids.
The Business Studies class were shocked and laughing. All high school and middle school students on break took a lot of pictures and gave them thumbs up. Teachers stopped by. Crowds surrounded them.
Only one high school student bought a water bottle. He sheepishly went past the picketers and gave his money. In fact, he asked quietly if he could. My grade 5 students were elated, and now more want to join in the picket line. It feels good when you can take charge and do some action. I think my students are learning that.