Paducah Students Turn Water Conservation into Art

Read the full story at WKMS.

A local conservation organization is putting an artistic spin on sustainable water practices. The Jackson Purchase Foundation partnered with the City of Paducah, West Kentucky Community and Technical College, and students at Paducah Tilghman High School to implement Water Smarter! The Artistic Rain Barrel Partnership Project. The students designed and painted rain barrels that will be auctioned off tonight at the Clemens Fine Arts Center.

Exploring Energy Efficiency: A Multi-Sector Survey on Energy Efficiency Tracking Platforms

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As inclusion of greater sustainability practices and operational policies to reduce  energy use takes root in buildings and campuses across the country, there is a growing need to better track, manage, and share the results that these projects produce. Numerous platforms and tools exist to help organizations across all sectors accomplish these goals, but there is little information examining what users prioritize and what platforms provide them across different sectors. To that end, the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) sought to study how various organizations track their energy efficiency projects by conducting a multi-sector survey to assess the benefits and weaknesses of energy efficiency platforms.
SEI developed this brief report to encourage stakeholders to evaluate their own institution’s needs as well as compare against peers in their own field. By examining the five different sectors of healthcare, higher education, K-12 school systems, municipalities, and corporations, SEI sought to examine the overarching commonalities for organizations appearing to prioritize reducing energy use, reducing operational costs, and more closely aligning with institutional environmental and carbon reduction goals.

Where the Wild Kids Are

Read the full story in CityLab.

Adventure playgrounds aren’t a new concept. Also known as waste-material playgrounds, they were popularized in Europe and the U.K. after World War II, when people realized that kids were playing in bombed-out lots. “It was a very urban, rough play experience,” explains Robin Meyer, a playground design project manager and one of eight board members of play:groundNYC. Hanna Rosin gave a great overview in her 2014 Atlantic article on the subject, and Erin Davis’s 2015 film The Land documents a modern Welsh adventure playground in all its tree-climbing, fire-starting, free-range glory.

The primary components of an adventure playground are moveable parts (which can include items like boxes, pipes, paint, hammers, and even saws) and trained, paid grown-up “playworkers,” who oversee and facilitate the play without interfering. Children are free to build their own structures, tear them down, climb, graffiti, create. They are encouraged to take calculated risks in order to learn resilience, grit, and problem-solving skills. The concept of vandalism is moot at an adventure playground—it is child-led play in its freest, most anarchic form. It is organized chaos.

Using the Very, Very Simple Climate Model in the Classroom

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Through a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions while predicting temperature change over the 21st Century.

We can’t solve climate change without teaching it: Why more classes are heading outside

Read the full story from Public Radio International.

Standing waist-deep in Connecticut’s West River, Nyasia Mercer’s mind is far from the cold, murky water lapping against her rubber waders. The high-schooler is thinking of people. The ones who swim here. Fish here. The ones who unwittingly dump liquid waste into nearby sewers. And how few of them know what swirls through their neighborhood waterway.

“It’s sad,” Mercer says. “A lot of these things could have been prevented if the community knew how. A lot don’t know how to advocate for themselves.”

But self-advocacy isn’t a problem for the students at Common Ground High School in New Haven, where Mercer is a senior. She and her classmates spend their school days sometimes literally waist-deep in environmental justice issues. Common Ground, a charter school with almost 200 students, integrates conservation, sustainability, and environmental studies into the curriculum and across disciplines.

And it’s not the only one. Some schools across the United States are finding place-based learning creates a valuable connection between students’ local environment and their education, especially during a time of rapid climate change.