Deerfield third grade class to host trivia event to raise money for Australia wildfire relief

photo by: Madeline Herrera

Berklee Wilcox, left, and Ava Mann, of Madeline Herrera's third grade class at Deerfield Elementary School, work on questions for an upcoming trivia night. The event aims to raise money for Australia wildfire relief.

After the students of Madeline Herrera’s third grade class learned about climate change this year, they were clearly shaken when they saw recent wildfires ravaging Australia.

But Herrera, who teaches at Deerfield Elementary School, said she was happy to see the students would not only learn about climate change but would also take action to help.

This weekend, the students will host a trivia night and silent auction event to help recovery efforts in Australia. Herrera said the event — which the students are calling “Overkoalafied: Third Graders Supporting Australia” — aims to raise money to donate to Australian organizations.

“To see how much ownership they are taking over climate change in general is just fantastic,” Herrera told the Journal-World. “It’s also a little sad at the same time because generations of adults have chosen not to do anything, and these students are driven to do things.”

Herrera said she was also impressed with the students for taking their lessons and applying them to the real world.

“When they started hearing about the fires, they kept asking their parents for more and more information,” Herrera said of her students. “They started to see the link between the fires and climate change.”

The catastrophic fires burned up millions of acres — an area estimated at roughly the size of South Korea — and scientists are calling the event a “fiery wake-up call for climate science,” according to a recent BBC News report.

As the students kept asking about the fires, Herrera realized they felt they needed to do something. When she asked if they really wanted to find a way to help, they all said yes, Herrera said.

In a recent lesson, Herrera said the students conducted a sustainability audit of their school and then created action plans to help improve it. But the students realized they could not do that with Australia, a country thousands of miles away.

photo by: Madeline Herrera

Jasmine Bell, of Madeline Herrera’s third grade class at Deerfield Elementary School, works on questions for the class’s upcoming event “Overkoalified: third graders supporting Australia.” The event aims to raise money for Australia wildfire relief.

When they started brainstorming different ways to help, Herrera said the first suggestion was to fly over to Australia and help put out the fires themselves. That suggestion was a little outside of the class’ capabilities, but they eventually realized they could help raise money, she said.

“They finally said they think the best thing they could do was send money,” Herrera said.

But how the class would raise money to donate was another challenge. Herrera said they first wanted to put on a play, but worried it would take too long. Then they thought of a bake sale, which they again worried would take too long.

But they finally landed on the trivia event, Herrera said. The students decided to make the trivia questions, sectioned into six categories with 10 questions each, a quiz on topics the students have learned about this year in Herrera’s class.

“It’s been a fun experience,” Herrera said of the students crafting the trivia questions.

Herrera said those who participate in the event would be allowed to create teams with others, with no limit on team size.

The silent auction includes art projects the students made and a variety of other items from local organizations that donated for the event. Herrera said one example was a set of tickets for an upcoming show that the Lawrence Arts Center donated.

The event is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Sunday at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. They can be purchased at the door or by emailing Herrera at All proceeds from the event will be donated to Australian organizations, she said.

photo by: Jasmin Moore, sustainability director for Douglas County

A student project at Deerfield Elementary School shows the effect climate change is having on the earth.

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