Tag Archives: environment

Students Win 1st Place at International Ocean Film Festival

On March 11, four dynamic Grade 7 filmmakers won first place in the middle school student section of the 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival held in San Francisco, California. Allie, Avery, Dani, and Helena, were recognized for their film, Strawbucks.

Strawbucks is a short film that interweaves detailed information connecting the use of plastic straws (in businesses like Starbucks), to the growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The film utilizes interviews with Hamlin students to create a powerful narrative, urging viewers to replace their plastic straws with ones that are more environmentally friendly (metal, glass).

You can watch the film below:

Hamlin Attends International Ocean Film Festival

On March 8, Hamlin students walked a mile down the hill to the Cowell Theater (Fort Mason) to watch films from the 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival. The films provided inspiration and crucial information, a perfect fit for this year’s eco-theme focused on Ocean-Awareness.

The International Ocean Film Festival is:

Dedicated to using film as a medium to increase public awareness of the environmental, social, and cultural importance of marine ecosystems and foster a spirit of ocean stewardship, IOFF is now the premier venue in North America for ocean-related films.

Every year, IOFF produces an acclaimed festival of ocean-themed films from all over the world that are largely unavailable to the general public. Themes range from marine science and industry to sports and adventure. We look for films that entertain, educate, and encourage active participation in ocean conservation.

Students watched several films from all over the world. Highlights included learning:

-How the bodies of pelicans dive into the water at 45mph

-About the declining population of sharks in the region of Borneo

-About coral restoration projects, and how coral is vital to the ocean’s ecosystem

-About Mexican fishing bats and their nightly excursions to feed on fish

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Heirs To Our Oceans Visits Hamlin

This year’s eco-theme at The Hamlin School is Ocean Awareness. On January 5, we welcomed Heirs To Our Oceans, a dynamic group of young leaders striving to protect our beautiful planet earth.

Heirs to Our Oceans is a rising tide of young leaders around the globe who are taking the ocean crisis into their own hands, educating themselves and others, bringing hope and solutions to the surface, and creating waves of change that will ensure the health of our blue planet for their generation and for future generations.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Heirs To Our Oceans is a nonprofit started by young people, with over 200 members globally. The core group (ages 11-14) spoke passionately and profoundly on a variety of topics.

They made the following points (among others):

-93% of extra heat from greenhouse gases goes into the ocean

-Coral bleaching/dying, ocean acidification, and sea level rise are growing concerns

-We can reduce our impact on the environment by eating less beef, using renewable energy, and doing away with single use plastics

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Mountain Lake: A Good Project Indeed

Written by Rose Helm, Middle School Division Head. Originally posted on her blog, At the Helm (password protected).

Last month, I attended a conference held at Lick-Wilmerding High School put on by Project Zero, an education research group out of Harvard University, who describes their research as “investigations into the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, ethics, and other essential aspects of human learning.” In one of the sessions at the conference, I learned about a specific arm of their research spearheaded by Howard Gardner and other intellectual heavyweights, known as “The Good Project.” The Good Project explores the cross section of ethics, excellence, and engagement that combines for what the group calls, good work or “work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningful to its practitioners.”

In the group’s research, they discovered that younger people who tended to compromise their core values or integrity in the pursuit of excellence did not see themselves as someone who possessed the ability to challenge the status quo or effect meaningful change. Through reading the case studies from the Good Project’s research, it struck me that these young people who had made choices that compromised their integrity lacked a sense of agency.

Hamlin’s mission statement audaciously states that we aim to inspire our girls to become innovators and leaders. In order to become extraordinary innovators or leaders, Hamlin girls need to have a belief that they have the capacity to act independently and to make their own free choices; they need to possess a sense of agency that is grounded in ethical decision-making, or integrity.

image1 copyA few weeks ago, I visited one of Rachel Davis’s sixth grade science classes and was struck by how the work they are doing in conjunction with the Presidio Trust is providing them with a platform to be innovators and leaders in an ethical decision-making context and fostering in them a sense of agency. For the past several years, the sixth grade has partnered with the Presidio Trust to study the water quality in Mountain Lake; the data collected by our students is actually the Presidio’s key source of information for understanding the state of the water.

Inspired by the conversations in their science classes, two girls in the sixth grade, Ava L. and Mikayla W., attended an open meeting about the problem of San Francisco residents releasing non-native species, such as carp, goldfish, and turtles into the lake. The Presidio Trust’s proposal is to eliminate a non-native species of fish from the lake using a chemical toxin that specifically targets the invasive, non-native species. The girls reported back to the class, and the class read and responded to an article published on SFGate. Scientist Jason Lisenby was so taken by the girls’ passionate interest in this situation that he came to Hamlin to speak directly with the girls Friday, October 24. As a result of his visit, many girls have already taken action by signing the pledge to stop releasing non-native species in the lake.


That the girls have a voice in this ethical dilemma – poison non-native fish to clear the lake of toxic algae and restore it to a healthy state – is powerful in its own right. But what is perhaps more powerful is to see how their sense of agency in this context increases the engagement of all the students. When I asked the girls about how they felt about doing this work, many remarked about feeling good about doing something for their local community or laying the groundwork for future Hamlin classes that will continue the partnership with the Presidio. The common thread among all their comments was that they saw themselves as making an impact; they saw themselves as leaders and innovators.

In the words of sixth grader Laurel F., Hamlin girls “are participating in, like, a scientific revolution.”

Read more about Howard Gardner and The Good Project.