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Programs > Service-Learning > Docs > Archive > Sherry Unger > 2005-2006
Tobacco is Wacko Puppet Show Project

April 2006


Renay Leggett, Southern High School, Baltimore City, rleggett@bcps.k12.md.us


This project is a traveling puppet show, performed by high school students, that communicates the health dangers of smoking with elementary and middle school students. The message focuses on the “expensive habit” of smoking.  Puppets identify tobacco health risks, including physical, emotional, and social issues. The project is interactive and engages audiences of all ages.


Best Practice 1: Meet a recognized need in the community


We surveyed the number of young people who smoke in several area high schools, researched the number of young smokers nationally, explored the reasons people smoke, and heard myths like: “I can stop if I want to,” “It doesn’t cause problems -- that is just media hype,” etc.  We also analyzed the cost of smoking in terms in health, lives, and dollars to the American economy.


The project helped people of all ages, but specifically the students at Ashburton Elementary/Middle School, Thomas Johnson Elementary and Federal Hill Preparatory. The young students in the audience were exited to take the information that they learned back home and share it with family and friends. The students from the four schools were informed about smoking related research findings and given handouts to share with others about the dangers of tobacco.


Best Practice 2:  Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning


The project supports health education content. The Tobacco Is Wacko project directly addresses the National Health Education Standard:

§         Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention.

§         Standard 2: Students will demonstrate ability to access valid health information and disease prevention information.

§         Standard 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to promote health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks.

§         Standard 5: Students will demonstrate interpersonal communication, goal-setting, and decision-making skills to enhance health.

Students used research, communication, critical and analytical thinking skills while working on the project.


Best Practice 3: Reflect throughout service-learning experience


We met as a team to talk about our progress, identify problems, and find solutions. We field tested our script on friends and family and got their feedback before performing at the schools.  There was continuous discussion about what we were learning during the research, interviews, and script writing.


Best Practice 4: Develop student leadership


The students selected the topic, wrote the script, did the research, scheduled practice times, and critiqued their work.  The students made sure that each student completed his or her task so the overall goal could be accomplished successfully.  This project was even presented at the National Service Learning Conference in March 2005.


Best Practice 5: Establish Community Partnerships


We worked with The Brooks Cherith Financial System, Inc.  This organization empowers, encourages, and supports young people to learn how to care for their community and families.  They help to build and recognize the need for dependence, interdependence, and independence in youth.


Best Practice 6: Plan ahead for service-learning


Students needed to select the project and then create a practice and presentation schedule.  We made arrangements with each school that wanted the puppet show performed for their young students.  We developed a calendar and had checks and balances to keep us on task.  The project went so well that our group decided to submit a proposal on our project for presentation at the national service-learning conference, so we needed to build work involved with that into our project timeline.


Best Practice 7: Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for service


The knowledge students gained through the project was focused in several areas:

§         They learned about diseases and how disease destroy body tissues and organs;

§         They learned the structures, functions, and care of body systems;

§         Students learned to make wise decisions, use research skills, to think critically, and to develop and make presentations.

§         The students also learned how to listen to other students concerns about their friends and family members, and how they could share information in caring and constructive ways.

Contact Information
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
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