Students Test Their Schools

Students Test their Schools

Students at Patterson High School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute are about to get new science and environmental health laboratories: their schools.

Johns Hopkins and Cool Green Schools are partnering on a community research grant to provide three classes of high school students with mentors, testing equipment, and funding so they can study and improve the health and learning conditions in their school environments. 

Students will work with Keith Madigan, a building engineer, to collect data on environmental conditions which affect their health and learning. They will monitor several conditions including: temperature, humidity, acoustics, lighting, asthma triggers, VOC’s, 2.5ppm and Co2.

Two public health students from Johns Hopkins, Arshdeep Kaur and Madison Dutson, will introduce students to environmental health research, demonstrate an environmental health study, and mentor students.

The high school students will propose and conduct their own research projects.  The grant provides students with testing equipment, $4,000 dollars to study and improve their school environments, and $1,000 dollars to communicate their findings.

This student research project will offer innovative STEM learning opportunities for students, but school facility staff, researchers and educators may learn important lessons from this project as well.  

Stay tuned, we will post updates on this project as it evolves.

Shan

Real Life Lessons: Should Maryland Stop Smoking?

Teachers, if you are looking for a great STEM learning project which could help students understand health, climate change, politics and power,  look to our polluted skies.

Will Maryland choose to reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants to improve the health of our citizens and reduce the harm from global warming?  Or will we walk away from these reductions to fight a perceived threat of cheaper power production in neighboring states? 

This is an open question.

The state set a ambitious goal in April for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the path for creating those reductions is not clear.

When Governor Hogan began his administration, he refused to publish air quality regulations which would have required older, highly polluting coal fired power plants to reduce their emissions or close.  Now, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)  is considering whether Maryland will leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce a perceived power cost advantage of neighboring states.   The argument is that if neighboring states can produce power more cheaply by polluting heavily, then Maryland would suffer from the pollution without profiting from the generation.

This project enables students to learn about the health and environmental costs of our dependence on fossil fuels and to consider which power sources are the most socially, economically and environmentally viable.

In the following six video clips,  advocacy groups, the Secretary of the MDE and citizens testify in support of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and in support of Maryland remaining in the multi-state cap and trade program to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.    No one testified in favor of leaving RGGI, but Ben Grumbles, the Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment discussed the possibility of the state withdrawing from the agreement.

What are the arguments which your students find most persuasive? Should Maryland consider the health and environmental costs of pollution when it calculates the price of energy?

What path would they suggest for the future of Maryland?

You can find additional materials in the resource section or email me at shan@coolgreenschools.com to create a project fitted to your class.

 

  • IMG_0246 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0260 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0265 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0268 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0284 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0285 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0289 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0298 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0303 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0314 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0322 by Shan Gordon.
  • IMG_0329 by Shan Gordon.

Learning in the World of Wonder: Michel Anderson helps children connect and learn in the natural world

IMG_0289 by Shan Gordon.
Michel Anderson leads a tour of the garden, play areas and forest at the Waldorf school in Baltimore. Children help grow plants used to dye clothes, and chickens which produce eggs given to students on their birthdays.
IMG_0285 by Shan Gordon.
This note above the terrariums prompts children to understand the water cycle and sunlight exposure on plants.
IMG_0284 by Shan Gordon.
Terrariums in a windowed staircase enable students to pass by and observe the water and growth process.
IMG_0268 by Shan Gordon.
Paintings of nature are displayed in hallways. Note the attention to detail and how the images are stylized.
IMG_0265 by Shan Gordon.
Children used sticks, found items and small sculptures to build a miniature village.
IMG_0260 by Shan Gordon.
Teachers photograph children made projects during the garden and outdoor tour at the Waldorf School in Baltimore.
IMG_0329 by Shan Gordon.
Michel Anderson talks about some of the explorations and learning projects he and the children undertake at the outdoor after school program. Students have built shelters from sticks, searched for a colors in nature and created their own names for trees and animals. Anderson said the students also learn the common names, but that naming things themselves empowers the students. These names can be wonderfully descriptive and imaginative. Who could forget the Coconut Weirdo Tree?
IMG_0322 by Shan Gordon.
Michel Anderson talks about the need to keep the innate love of nature that children have, alive. The hours that children spend in observing and adventuring in the forest and gardens helps create that strong connection to the natural world.
IMG_0314 by Shan Gordon.
Willy Herrerra looks at the child made structure in the forest at the Waldorf School.
IMG_0303 by Shan Gordon.
Hay bales, purchased for a few dollars, provided a movable, changeable play structure for children.
IMG_0298 by Shan Gordon.
Michel Anderson supplies each child with a birthday egg. It is a big hit with the children at Waldorf. “If I forget, they will remind me”, Anderson said.