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Green School Fosters Students' Environmental Awareness

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Certainly attending a school that emphasizes green or environmentally friendly habits and processes is going to have an impact on students' awareness of such issues. But preteens at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa, who participated in a recent survey about their commitment to conservation seem to be walking the walk in their everyday lives as well.

The 140 students, between 10 and 12, describe in detail how the environment, and the value they give to conservation efforts, influence their day-to-day activities. They may be at that age when many youths are seen as self-absorbed and unfocused, but this school project revealed their deep interest in the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.

The Des Moines district started its own green revolution with efforts to reduce energy consumption, introduce more energy-efficient systems in schools, and develop curriculum materials related to those projects.

At Merrill, students help run a recycling program and help maintain a school garden. Teachers, too, have introduced green practices, including powering down computers on the weekends and securing a grant to have solar panels installed.

The environmental emphasis has led students to change their habits at home as well, according to the report. Most of the students, for example, report reducing their water usage and urging their parents to recycle and reduce consumption.

Are schools in your area taking steps to promote conservation? Are their energy bills falling, or rising, as a result, of these activities? And are teachers attempting to build lessons in science and other subjects around these efforts?

1 Comment

It needs to be about more than the three r's or school gardens (although that is a start). Truly greening a school means greening the curriculum. Integrated, thematic instruction, experiential learning, place-based education... all of these initiatives point to the key importance of asking the classic philosophical question: what knowledge is of the most worth? It is this, rather than a few more compact florescent lightbulbs, that will truly prepare our students for the challenges they will face.

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