"We gave them some of our plants from our environment and they gave us things from their environment," said Joshua Valerio, 9. "We have a desert climate and they have a more wet one."
Perhaps the most curious sample of Glendale's dry climate that students collected was ash that had blown over to the school during the Griffith Park fire, Labinger said.
The ash was packed along with wild sage, aloe vera and a piece of a 300-year-old oak tree on the Edison Elementary campus, she said.
Using the Internet, Valerio and his classmates have also been keeping track of Glendale and Rochester's respective temperatures, humidity levels and daily weather patterns for about a month, recording the numbers in notebooks.
With the data, they've devised line graphs as a way to compare the climates of the two cities.
"It's hotter here," student Arne Esmailian said, pointing toward his colorful graph.
But Rochester — where students learned the temperature tends to be cooler — may be more damp.
As Labinger sifted through the contents of the box from New York, she found and held up high a plastic bag containing a bright green leaf, textured with pockets of moisture.
The moisture from the single leaf was a marked contrast from the mostly dry vegetation that Labinger's class sent to New York, student Sarahy Lopez said.
"The most unusual thing was the leaf that still had the water in there," Sarahy said.
Others were awed by a plastic container filled with moist, black dirt, because once Labinger set the container on a table, the students saw there was more than dirt — a host of insects, including an energetic spider, meant that the dirt was crawling with life.
The project was born out of a friendship between Labinger and Gatto, formed last year when the teachers, both Disney Teacher Award winners, met at an awards ceremony.
"We are from different biomes and we have different issues, but as teachers, we have the same goals," Labinger said. "We both have a diverse cross-section of students and we're trying to stay creative in a time when standards are at the forefront."
Many of Labinger's students are thrilled to learn about climates with their hands and eyes, and not a textbook.
"It's better to see the real thing instead of in a textbook," student Anabelle Dordulian.
"It's better to see it and feel it."