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Smith’s students make the planet ‘Mo Betta’

By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The state of California wants sixth-graders to know that water is a dynamic component of the environment. Cobblestone Elementary teacher Cindy Smith wants her sixth-graders to know water-related illnesses are responsible for the death of a child every 20 seconds in Kenya. “The kids are at the perfect age to see them make that transformation,” said Smith, who has recently connected with a school in Kenya through H2O for Life to alleviate the physical suffering and disease in Africa related to its shortage of water. A few years ago, her class coined the name “Planet Mo Betta” since their efforts were directed toward improving the planet for its people. Since its establishment, Planet Mo Betta has engaged in a concept called Service Learning, where students share what is learned inside the classroom by applying the academic curriculum directly to both local and international projects. Such projects have included learning how to repair bikes to donate during the holiday season and supporting the Tour de Rocklin both years. Smith likes the project because she says water can be discussed in all of her subjects from chemistry to ancient history. Her students have also engaged in a pen-pal program with the sponsored school. Smith kicked off her project at the end of last year in front of the whole school. Teachers sport Planet Mo Betta shirts and classes compete in “penny wars” to bring greater sanitation and hygiene to Kenya. Her students remember seeing first-graders walk around with signs at recess that read “Help the kids in Africa.” Smith’s sixth-graders have advocated their cause through teleparent notices and announcements over the P.A. system. They plan on using their persuasive writing skills to present their ideas to the RUSD School Board. Rocklin and Whitney high schools have teamed up with the sixth-grade class to bring their project to the community stage. A “walk for water” will be held in Rocklin during this spring, where participants will walk while carrying water as if they were children in Kenya. Sixth-grader, Alyssa Calzada says people should contribute to the project because “everyone needs clean water and they are people, too.”