A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW
A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW
A Simple Question: The Story of STRAW
Item#: SIM-1051
License:  Format: 

Running Time: 36 minutes
Grade 10-Adult
A Film by Filmmakers Collaborative SF
Produced by Kevin White & David Donnenfield
SDH Captioned
Scene Selection


"STARRED REVIEW. Top 25 Videos for Students....." A welcome addition to school and public libraries, this well produced, tightly edited program is just the thing for spurring similar hands–on activities and for encouraging kids to get involved.”

“A model of one of the most successful school-initiated conservation programs. This multi-award winning video would be excellent for classes who are thinking of or are starting major projects with fairly long timelines. It is also excellent viewing for school administrators as it deals with some of the administrative logistics of the project.”
– Green Teacher Magazine

Highly recommended. A must for all teachers who are thinking about organizing a project with students and the community. This documentary is a true testament to the fact that every person, young or old, and with the help of others, can work in a positive and constructive manner to become good stewards of the environment in an effort to create a better tomorrow.”
—Educational Media Reviews Online

"Inspiring. Recommended for students and adults seeking ways actively to make a difference in their local environments."
- Library Journal

"This story shows that dreams can have long term success, and life can take unexpected paths. The facts that students can work hard, can get adults to listen and cooperate, and can have a great and lasting impact on their world are emphasized, and could be used to spark new ideas and action in other schools and communities. This DVD can be used in any classroom to encourage students to ask questions, and teachers to take action."
– NSTA Recommends (National Science Teachers Association)

Recommended. A well-crafted and inspiring example of young people developing both eco-awareness and leadership skills. DVD extras include extended conversations with ecologists and authors.”
—Video Librarian

“The most compelling example that I’ve seen of students being productively involved in ecological restoration. I use the film as an integral part of presentations I do now to engage students in hopeful environmentalism.”
—Dr. David Sobel, Director, Teacher Certification Programs, 
Education Department, Antioch New England Graduate School

“‘A Simple Question’ portrays a hope grounded in the ability of the natural world to re-grow itself when people – in this instance, school children – make it the object of their care and attention.  My hope is that this film will inspire more educators across the U.S. and world to take similar actions within their own watersheds.”  

— Greg Smith, Ed.D., Professor of Teacher Education, Lewis and Clark College


Nomination, Northern California Emmy Awards

Spirit of Activism Award, Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival

Best Educational Documentary, Mammoth Mountain Film Festival

Best Educational Value in the Classroom, and Conservation Hero of the Festival, Laurette Rogers, International Wildlife Film Festival

Best Short Film, Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival, New Zealand



All prices include DVD and PPR

K-12 Schools & Non-Profits: $79
Colleges, Institutions, & Businesses: $149
Colleges, Institutions, & Businesses (with DSL): $449

Narrated by Peter Coyote
Featuring author Richard Louv

A Simple Question looks at an innovative program that brings together students of all ages, their teachers, community groups and local land-owners to undertake habitat restoration and preserve endangered species. STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) is a national model for involving students in hands-on, place-based environmental education.

The film documents the modest beginnings of the program, how it works, and the impact it has on the students and the habitat they work to restore.

When California teacher Laurette Rogers showed a video on endangered species to her 4th grade class in the 1990’s, one student plaintively asked what his class could do to help prevent species extinction. That simple question launched Rogers and her class on an inspired voyage of discovery and transformation.

The students decided they would help to save the obscure, endangered California freshwater shrimp. The effort to save the shrimp became the classroom theme that inspired their cross-disciplinary learning for an entire year. The class divided into teams to learn all that they could -- conducting research, interviewing experts, creating databases, calling legislators, and presenting their findings in public forums and a legislative hearing.

A local rancher, on whose property the shrimp once thrived, agreed to allow the class to plant willow trees to help shore up the banks of the creek on his land. The first skinny willow shoots Rogers’ class planted in the early 90’s are now a riparian forest some 20-25 feet high. They shade a meandering stream, creating the ideal habitat for the shrimp and a canopy that lured 25 species of native birds, 18 of whom are rare and endangered.

Having witnessed the dramatic changes on the rancher’s property, others clamored for similar restoration work on their land. Since then, more than 25,000 students of all grade levels have participated in over 300 restoration projects. In the film, Rogers’ former students describe how the experience changed and empowered them.

What began in Rogers’ classroom has morphed into a transformative science and environmental education curriculum that takes learning outside the classroom. It transforms teachers, who are looking for meaning and joy in their work; and It transforms students, by engaging them in real work that they can see makes a difference on the immediate world around them.


DVD includes extended interviews with:
• Richard Louv, Author, Last Child in the Woods
• Dr. Roger Hart, Director of the Children's Environments Research Group, City University of New York
• Dr. Josh Collins, Senior Ecologist, San Francisco Estuary Institute

Learn more about the STRAW Project

More Films on Innovations in Education