Whole(y) Cow!

cow-learning-chart by . After years of divide and fail, can we reunite learning with STEM and project based learning?

Study a package of hamburger as long as you like, you will never understand a cow.

So why do we keep dividing learning into bite sized bits, cut out of context, meaning and purpose?
Can memorizing artificial labels on a lifeless, two dimensional chart help us understand or improve the cow?
Or does this simply enable us to divide and label our students in the same way we divided and labeled the cow?

Imagine instead that we challenged students to create a better cow. This forces them to understand “cow” and “better” in all dimensions.
What environments and foods strengthen cows? How do we balance our needs and responsibilities to cows? What diets and choices can keep us healthy?

STEM and project based learning reconstitutes learning, naturally combining and testing our understanding of all subjects.
This learning is rich and alive. It challenges students to understand interacting systems as they search for solutions.
This is how we have always produced stronger cows and more milk.
It can also produce innovative students ready to solve problems in their world.

If you are brave enough to admit that you don’t have every answer; that there can be more than one solution, embark at once upon this learning adventure with your students.
You will be amazed at how some of them will spark alive when they are offered a chance to touch and transform their world.

How many Drip, Drip, Drips does it take to lose a Million Dollars?

Water-costs-2014-finally by .
Water costs at Baltimore City High Schools

It was a joy to learn with the bright students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute last week.  The students worked hard and offered the guest speakers great questions and great respect.

I’d like to challenge the students (and anyone who wishes) to understand and present the City Schools energy data accurately and informatively. Access to open and accurate information can help us understand and solve problems.

I’ve put together graphs and pie charts using the water data supplied by City Schools.
More data from City Schools is available in the resources section of this website.

Please use the original data from City Schools to create your own graphs or check the accuracy of my graphs.

Here are some important items to consider when we interpret this data and create our graphs and charts.

1) Schools vary by size, so we would expect to see some differences in energy and water use between schools because of their size.
You may want to create graphs that show the square footage of the building next to their water or energy use.

2) Poly/Western share a campus and their energy/utility systems, so we need to combine them to effectively benchmark their energy/water use or compare them to
other schools. Delegating water use to one school and oil to another when in fact they are sharing these resources is not helpful in understanding how these
schools use energy.

3) Sometimes the data can simply be wrong.  Errors in gathering, tabulating or calculating data can give us false data, so it is wise to check for these errors
as we interpret the numbers.

4) We would also need to consider the effect of operations and mission of a school. Having a pool could increase water use a bit, having air conditioning
or staying open longer for school events could increase energy use. These things support students and the community, so we don’t see this as waste.
Our work is to eliminate energy waste (lights and equipment on 24/7, broken windows, inefficient systems) so we can fund the things that help us learn and

5) Does the presentation of our information (graph, chart, written or spoken language) clearly and accurately explain the situation?

6) Did we include all relevant data and captions explaining how to interpret and act on the information we supply?

7) Is a high utility bill a temporary problem that is solved immediately, or is it a long term problem that hasn’t been addressed?

Water-Use-2012-and-2011 by .
Water use at Baltimore City Public High Schools.

I’m looking forward to seeing your charts and graphs on the energy and water use of the Baltimore City Public Schools.



Baltimore City Schools Water use 2014 High Schools Chart final


Water Use at City High Schools by cost FY 2014

Water use at City High Schools FY 2013

Poly-14-3 with totals