For capstone class, Creighton students analyze energy efficiency of Omaha Archdiocese schools

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Crouching on the roof of the 51-year-old Roncalli Catholic High School building, Sam Rosol holds out a blue device to take a selfie. Not a picture of himself but a sun selfie — measuring the sun’s orientation to find the perfect spot for south-facing solar panels.

Once Rosol takes the fish-eye photo and inputs the GPS location with the time and date taken, the software in the handheld shade measurement tool calculates the potential shadows over the course of a year from obstructions such as trees and buildings.

Rosol and his three fellow Creighton University student partners will use the data to analyze the building’s energy efficiency and suggest ways to save money.

The students are one of four groups conducting energy audits this year at Omaha Archdiocese schools, including Holy Name, St. Wenceslaus and the Jesuit Academy. The project is part of a capstone course in the Energy Technology Program at Creighton.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant releases lesson plans on the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has created and compiled a series of lessons on the environmental and health issues surrounding pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Food Scraps Composting At Schools

Read the full story in Biocycle.

Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) banned recyclables from disposal as of July 2015. Food scraps are being banned as well, beginning with the largest generators in 2014; a full ban, including household food scraps, will be in place by 2020. Vermont schools will be required to comply with the Universal Recycling requirements. Four entities were awarded “Universal Recycling School Grants” from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Waste Management and Prevention Division (DEC) to assist Vermont schools in implementing recycling and organics diversion programs.

The Northeast Recycling Council, University of Vermont, Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District and Windham Solid Waste Management District each received $11,250 to assist a minimum of four K-12 schools each. While the goal of the grant was to help schools comply with the Universal Recycling Law, the project was also designed to educate the next generation of Vermonters on how easy and important it is to recycle and divert organics.

Back to School, Forward to Nature: Ten Ways Teachers Can Fortify Their Students With Vitamin N

Read the full story at SEEK.

Not long ago I met some dedicated young women who were doing their student teaching at an impressive nature-based preschool. They made it clear that they’d love to pursue careers at similar schools. But they were discouraged about the prospects. Despite growing demand from parents, the number of nature-based preschools remains relatively low.

“Is there a business school at your university?” I asked. Yes, they said. “Have the business school and your education school ever considered working together to prepare future teachers to start your own preschools?” The students looked at each other. They had never heard of such a thing. Nor had the director of the preschool.

Why not? Probably because it doesn’t exist. Bringing more nature experiences to education will be a challenging task, and teachers can’t do it alone. Higher education, businesses, families and the whole community must become involved.

That’s where the growing children and nature movement comes in. If, as an educator, you’d like to join or help lead the movement, here are a few ways to get started in your own school and beyond:

President’s Environmental Youth Award

The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s youth. Applications for this year’s award are due December 31, 2015.

Each year the PEYA program honors a wide variety of projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • restoring native habitats
  • recycling in schools and communities
  • construction of nature preserves
  • tree planting
  • installing renewable energy projects
  • creating videos, skits and newsletters that focused on environmental issues
  • participating in many other creative sustainability efforts

Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that participation in the PEYA program is frequently a life-changing experience for many of the young people and their project sponsors.

ISRI, JASON Learning announce “Bigger Than the Bin” student video and poster contest

Read the full story in Recycling Today.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and JASON Learning, Ashburn, Virginia, are again inviting young filmmakers, artists and recycling advocates to participate in a contest to build awareness around the variety of items that can be recycled. The theme of this year’s contest is “Bigger than the Bin.” Students in grades K–12 are challenged to select an item that is too big for the blue bin, research how that item is recycled and create an original video or poster on the subject.

Visualize Your Local Water Quality: A Mapping Challenge for Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay High School Students

  • January 2016 – start of competition
  • February 2016 – submissions due
  • March 2016 – winners announced

In this competition, students will use digital mapping technology from Esri with data from the USGS, EPA, and other sources to analyze local water quality. They will then create a map that tells a story about the problem and suggests possible solutions. A free Esri ArcGIS Online school account is available so students can view and analyze relevant data and create maps.

U.S. High School Students in the following states are eligible to participate

  • Great Lakes Basin: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York
  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed: West Virginia, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York