Global Leadership prepares for Tap Challenge with microplastics lab
Audrey Garon, DEI Editor|January 21, 2022

Students learned about the threat of microplastics in the environment and specifically in water supplies with a lab on Nov. 15.

Four thousand miles is not enough to stop the Global Leadership class from connecting with Brookline’s sister city, Quezalguaque, Nicaragua.

Global Leadership aims to help students gain more experience and knowledge in solving world issues. On Jan. 31, they will begin the Tap Challenge, which lasts for 10 days and encourages students to use reusable water bottles instead of plastic, single-use ones.

Global Leadership teacher Roger Grande said before the start of the Tap Challenge, students learned about Quezalguaque and its specific water-related needs.

“We learned about their water insecurity: that many people in one of the hemisphere’s poorest nations do not have regular and easy access to potable, clean water,” Grande said.

Junior and Global Leadership student Agnes Shales said although Brookline and Quezalguaque are many miles away from one another, the Tap Challenge brings the two together. Money donated to the Tap Challenge will be given to a fund in Quezalguaque to help with their water security efforts.

“We’re a city in possibly one of the areas of the world with the best water. We are so incredibly lucky that we aren’t forced to pay for water in the same way that they do there,” Shales said. “As their sister city, we can take responsibility for improving the planet and helping out. We try to do this by reducing our use of plastic water bottles because it’s an example of our privilege, damaging the Earth in ways we don’t need to be.”

Junior and Global Leadership student Zoe Raybould said the Tap Challenge allows students to practice leadership skills as they each have individual roles.

“We’re learning to be leaders on a global scale and to have the outreach that affects people all over the world, not just in our small community. But at the same time, we want to make a real difference in both of our communities,” Raybould said.

Shales said the Tap Challenge permits her to help another community while honing leadership skills for the Global Leadership class.

“We are a class that focuses on development and leadership skills and issues facing the international community. I think that finding a way in which our lives tie into that, through the sister city project, is a super interesting take on that,” Shales said. “Usually projects are about areas that we didn’t have a real impact on before. I think this is a way to make an impact through the global lens that we’ve been trying to cultivate in our class.”

The Global Leadership class conducted a lab with the help of two Boston University graduate students, Caroline Fleming and Jenna Rindy, on Nov. 15. The lab centered around small plastic debris called microplastics and their negative role in the environment.

Rindy introduced the microplastics lab by explaining how chemicals enter the environment through plastics not being disposed of properly.

“Plastics are made of chemicals and as they get exposed to things like rain, they release chemicals into our environment. A lot of those chemicals are really toxic,” Rindy said. “The issue is that they can enter our soils and be really harmful for what grows and lives there. These plastics are also harmful for animal life, land and sea.”

According to Grande, the purpose of the microplastics lab was to demonstrate the danger plastics pose to coral, which connects back to the Tap Challenge.

Junior and Global Leadership student Dan Hernan said that the microplastics lab prepared students for the Tap Challenge because they learned about microplastics’ harm to the environment.

“The microplastics lab we did was almost like a smaller version of what we’re going to do with the Brookline High School community,” Hernan said. “It was bringing awareness to students in the class about the prevailing and dangerous force of microplastics in our own water supply.”



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