Destiny Watford rejects the planned Energy Answers Incinerator for Curtis Bay

posted in: Blog, Environment, Home, Multimedia | 0

Destiny Watford, Free Your Voice, speaks out against plans to bring the Energy Answers incinerator to Curtis Bay, an industrial area of Baltimore, Maryland.   Watford stated that the plant would be within a mile of two schools and would discharge lead and mercury into the area which is already heavily polluted by industry.
Watford pointed out that the incinerator would not burn refuse from Baltimore, but would be importing fuel from other areas.

Watford won a prestigious environmental award for leading opposition to the planned plant which has not been built.

 

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Experiment YOU

experiment you by .

In the experiment of our lives, we are either the lab rat or the scientist.  This is an important choice. Scientists win Nobel prizes. Things go badly for rats.

Shan

Experiment You
Engages students as scientists, innovators and engineers their own life experiment.

How can you become stronger and healthier?
How can you learn and remember more?
How can you create successful futures for yourself and your community?
Students will choose one personal goal and one group goal.
Students create baseline measurements of where they start, develop a plan and chart their progress as they work to accomplishing these goals.
Teachers and parents can also join in, developing their own plans to accomplish their goals.  It is important that students see adults working to achieve goals.                                                                                         And there is no better enforcement mechanism than a classroom of students looking over their teachers progress.

Experiment you enables students to use their own observations, learning and problem solving skills
to solve problems that matter to them.

Try this for a month in your classroom..and let us know how your experiment comes out.

The Importance of Being Insistent

The outdoor lights are blazing away trying to keep up with the bright sun shining outside of North Avenue–the Baltimore City Public Schools district office. It’s an interesting welcome to a meeting on sustainability policy.

 
But inside the board room, something is different. Purpose and determination.  As Cheryl Casciani, a school board member pages through the draft of the sustainability policy, she is pointing out parts of the policy that staff need to revise.

 
“Encourage isn’t strong enough,” We need to change it to Insist.”

 
Peering over her glasses at school officials, Casciani moves quickly through the document to ask for stronger policies to protect children. Her points are quick, thoughtful and insistent.

 

“I’d like all toxics out of our schools… stop bus idling in front of schools…it’s a health issue.”
For a school district that still hasn’t implemented green cleaning as required by the state, this insistence toward progress is necessary and overdue. Plagued with poorly maintained schools and a lack of resources, change will only come when it is demanded and verified.
But how can we verify that changes in policy to improve the health and learning of students will be implemented in our schools?

 
Let the students do it.

 
Let our students use their school as a science laboratory, gathering and analyzing data on factors that affect their health and learning. Using common professional tools and protocols, our student can monitor, analyze and report on the environmental factors that affect their health and learning.

 
Students can use Tools for Schools by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to proactively find and report issues that could trigger asthma attacks if left uncorrected. Using the Operations Report Card by the Collaboration for High Performance Schools (CHPS), students can monitor classroom ventilation, temperatures, humidity, and acoustics. Adding their school to the data base of the Energy Star Portfolio manager enables them to compare their energy use to similar schools and to calculate cost savings of energy renovations or improved operations.

 

 

As a hands-on science project investigating air quality, health, energy, engineering and technology, it aligns perfectly with Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core, Maryland Environmental Literacy requirements and STEM. This project studies the school as a system, integrating knowledge from the health professionals, facilities managers, custodians and teachers to improve the health and learning conditions at the school.
The information that students provide to the district could avoid or remedy health hazards, reduce repair costs and identify potential cost savings. In a pilot project at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, students and faculty noticed excessive water charges over a several year period. The city water department has now credited over $447,000 back to the school district. Not bad for a one week project.
This project empowers students to use science and innovation to improve their school environment, their learning, and their lives. We owe them this chance. Let’s insist upon it.

For all of our children, thanks, Cheryl.

  • aIMG_0085 - Copy by Shan Gordon.
  • aIMG_0062 by Shan Gordon.
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  • aIMG_9879 by Shan Gordon.
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Thinking Big: How Code in the Schools is helping kids learn to problem solve, collaborate and program computers.

posted in: Blog, Healthy Schools, Home, Multimedia | 0

aIMG_0085 - Copy by Shan Gordon.
Think kids don’t like to learn? You must not have come to the Game Jam at Code in the Schools last Saturday. Students 12 years and up worked in small teams from 8 am to 8 pm to learn programming and to solve problems as they created their own video games. Volunteers with gaming and programming backgrounds mentored each group as they developed their ideas into working video games.

Could this model of mentored learning help students learn in other fields like architecture, health, communications, construction, or government services?

Baltimore needs to think out of the school box learning model with more mentoring and learning opportunities with business, non-profit and government partners. Learning with mentors helps students understand how their learning can be applied in solving real problems and it can help connect them to their futures. What problem solving exercises could your business or agency host for students?
aIMG_0062 by Shan Gordon.
Sixth grade students demonstrate the video game they developed to the judges at Game Jam.

aIMG_9879 by Shan Gordon. Students work together to learn the programming necessary to make their games work.
They were able to reference other games and use online resources to create their own working game.

IMG_9993 by Shan Gordon. So what strategy would you use to escape hungry dinosaurs on an island?
Students had to come up with story plots, characters, game rules and the programming to make it all work as they created their games.
This is a blending of learning across subjects that few classroom experiences match.