No Idling - Student View from Burton Valley Elementary School

During the Fall, we noticed that because of the Northern California fires, the air quality was really bad in the East Bay. We also noticed that parents were picking up their children from school in their cars. While they were waiting for their kids to come out from the classrooms, the parents were allowing their cars to idle.


Idling is when you run your car without even moving. We knew that idling emits greenhouse gases, and it is one of the causes of Global Warming. We wanted to do our part to stop it – one reason was to save polar bears from the polar ice caps melting. We also wanted to do something to make the earth a better place. So, in our class at Burton Valley Elementary, we created a club called Project Earth.



Our idea was to make clever signs that say not to idle, and include facts about the harmful effects of idling on the environment. We would count how many cars were idling, before and after holding up the signs. Our goal was to see if the parents changed their minds about idling after reading our signs.


First, we asked our principal for permission to do the project. We wrote a letter and read it aloud to her. When she said we could do it, we got started right away.


We asked around in our class to see how many people wanted to participate in the club. We were happy to find that 13 people wanted to join Project Earth! After a few meetings of making our signs, we were ready to put our idea into action!



Our first day of action was counting how many cars were Idling. On the Office side of the school, there were 14 cars idling and 14 not idling. On the Merriewood side of the school, there were 11 cars idling and 11 not idling. So 50% of the cars were idling. We knew we could improve that.


Then we were ready to hold up our persuasive signs! On another day, half of our group went to one side of the school while the other half went to the opposite side. Although some parents didn’t cooperate with us and left their cars

running, we were happy that many parents turned off their cars after reading our signs. (By the way, did you know that idling for just ten seconds uses more gas than turning it off and restarting it?)



Next, we went out a third time to count the cars again to see how many were idling after a week had passed. The cars idling on the Office side had reduced to 7 idling and 14 not idling. On the Merriewood side, the idling cars had reduced to 7, and there were 7 cars not idling. This worked out to 60% not idling and 40% idling. We had reduced idling by 10% at our school!


We think our plan worked very well and it helped the earth. We plan to keep doing it and help the earth even more!


Here are some things kids can do to help stop Global Warming:


● Spread the word! Ask your friends if they want to start a club to help the earth, too.

● Teach your family and ask them not to idle while they are in the pickup line or anywhere else.

● If your parents are thinking about buying a new car, encourage them to consider buying an electric vehicle or one that automatically shuts off after a short period of time.

● Join a group like Sustainable Lafayette so they can give you more ideas for how to help the earth!



Written by: Raini and Stella

3rd Graders at Burton Valley Elementary School

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