“Next, we may start tracking squirrels – do they hang out in certain trees or primarily around trash? We get the kids outside, but maintain a rigorous program.”
In eighth grade English, students study environmental writings which have initiated social action. They also discuss and write about their school’s green systems compared with the world outside.
The Middle School holds an Environmental Challenge in which students must lessen their carbon footprint. The challenges are posted for each trimester. At the end of the year, the pounds of carbon saved are added up. One of Wood’s eighth graders noted that the best thing people can do is to “use and buy as little as possible.”
There’s also a Middle School Student Advisory Project. Topics have ranged from storm water run-off and drinking water to a study of the environmental health of Washington, D.C..
An AP Environmental Science course is offered for Upper School students in which the kids compare water quality in the on-campus biology pond to water in a local river. This class also studies biodiversity in the soil on the green roof. And they compare storm water runoff from the green roof with runoff from a traditional roof.
Although the middle school is the “star” of Sidwell’s green building initiative, Hardenbergh says that the school hopes to receive LEED ratings for a new classroom building in the lower school as well as for a new athletic facility at the middle and upper school.
(Read about other green schools in US green schools: A lesson in engaging kids and saving money.)
(Photo credits: Halkin Photography LLC and Sidwell Friends)
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