Portland Public Schools: Hybrid Funding for Energy Efficiency Projects

Read the full case study from U.S. DOE’s Better Buildings Program.

Portland Public Schools (PPS), realized the long-term benefits of energy efficiency upgrades, but was averse to completing projects because of the district’s limited capital budget which was reserved for emergency infrastructure needs. In addition, officials were concerned that the process of verifying and maintaining ongoing savings would be timely and complicated.

Oregon eyes mandate for climate change lessons in schools

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Oregon lawmakers are aiming to make the state the second in the nation to mandate climate change lessons for K-12 public school students, further fueling U.S. culture wars in education.

Dozens of Oregon high schoolers submitted support of the bill, saying they care about climate change deeply. Some teachers and parents say teaching climate change could help the next generation better confront it, but others want schools to focus on reading, writing and math after test scores plummeted post-pandemic.

Beyond Benign offers online professional development courses to middle and high school chemistry teachers

Beyond Benign is offering three online courses for middle and high school teachers this summer. Each course provides professional development points and graduate credits for continuing education for teachers. The courses are:

  • Sustainable Science: Contextualizing Chemistry Through Safer Hand-On Labs (Middle and high school teachers)
    Learn how to weave Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) sustainability content into your classrooms in this remote learning course for middle school and high school science teachers. Beyond Benign Lead Teacher Erin Mayer will teach this course through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Participants will leave with a toolkit of resources and access to a network of other like-minded educators in the region. ($150 to enroll* + $67 (optional) for 1 graduate credit from CSM — Free for teachers from NY, Oregon and Environmental Justice Communities)
  • Introducing Green Chemistry in the High School Classroom (High school teachers)
    In this course, Beyond Benign Certified Lead Teacher Cassidy Javner will help prepare you to integrate green chemistry principles and practices into your teaching through real-world sustainable inventions. You’ll also learn how to develop safer labs and lessons aligned to your local standards in an interactive online environment. This course features forum discussions, lesson plan development, and 4 synchronous zoom classes. Discussions will focus on how to prepare for effective remote learning in this time of an ever-changing educational landscape. ($475 to enroll + $149 (optional) for 3 grad credits from CSM. Free for teachers from NY, Oregon and Environmental Justice Communities; 1/2 off for Washington teachers)
  • Advanced Green Chemistry: Connections to Our World (High school teachers)
    Join Beyond Benign Certified Lead Teacher Annette Sebuyira as you expand your knowledge of green chemistry principles and practices by analyzing Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award technologies. In this course, you’ll dive into toxicology for chemistry basics and investigate the pedagogy for effective guidance of student-based research projects and inquiry-based projects. ($475 to enroll + $149 (optional) for 3 graduate credits from CSM. Free for teachers from NY, Oregon and Environmental Justice Communities; 1/2 off for Washington teachers)

Visit Beyond Benign’s website to learn more about professional development opportunities for teachers.

How educator Annette Sebuyira is advancing green chemistry in New York

Read the full story at Beyond Benign.

Based in New York, Annette Sebuyira is a retired Guilderland High School chemistry teacher with over 30 years of experience. Annette is a Beyond Benign Certified Lead Teacher and is doing inspiring work to advance green chemistry education. Currently, she is involved in creating a green chemistry lab book for New York educators and is a co-facilitator of the New York State Master Teacher Green Chemistry Professional Learning Team.

In this Q&A, Annette shares more about the projects she’s working on, how she’s brought green chemistry into her classroom, and her hope for the future of green chemistry.

Fueling the future with food waste

Read the full story from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

One cannot appreciate how food processing wastes become biofuels just by reading about it in a book.

Students in science teacher Melanie Bachart’s high school bioethics course at Chiawana High School, Pasco, Washington, got the full experience of producing carbon-neutral biogas from food waste that usually winds up in landfills. Biogas can be used in place of natural gas to power electrical generators or to provide heat for industrial processes. It can also be used to power cars and trucks that are equipped to run on compressed natural gas.

It was a tactile, memorable experience for the students. Their adjunct instructors for the project were Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers, representing PNNL’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program.

Students want to know more about careers in climate change—now

Read the full story in Education Week.

Students who are watching increasingly dangerous and more frequent storms batter cities and seeing families fleeing wildfires want more information on how climate change might shape their career choices.

But workforce education has been slow to provide answers, or revamp training programs, to prepare students for jobs that help mitigate the effects of climate change, educators and experts say.

In fact, 30 percent of the roughly 1,000 teenagers surveyed by the EdWeek Research Center last fall said they wanted to learn more about job opportunities related to sustainability and climate change. But few are hearing about those kinds of careers in school: 22 percent of teachers say they talk to students about those kinds of career opportunities.

Infographic: Levels of scientific evidence

Download the resources for grades 7-12+. See also other news literacy resources for educators.

This infographic presents eight distinct levels of scientific evidence arranged in a pyramid that reflects a spectrum of quality. Levels of evidence at the bottom are significantly more prone to error and bias than those at the top. The pyramid is reflective of the process of science itself: as initial hypotheses about a given question are tested, they are either disproven and discarded or they survive to be tested further. As more rigorous studies are completed, and as their results are compiled and analyzed, the picture painted by the evidence becomes clearer and more compelling.

After 10 years of advocacy, all District 65 lunchrooms begin composting

Read the full story in the Daily Northwestern.

At the end of lunch in every Evanston/Skokie School District 65 school, students sort their waste into landfill, recycling and compost bins, stacking their compostable trays on the side.

Making composting part of students’ daily routines was no small feat. After a decade of work, District 65 Sustainability Coordinator Karen Bireta said all buildings in the district began composting in December.

During the last academic year, students composted 77,955 pounds of food, eliminating more than 34 metric tons of carbon emissions by keeping waste out of landfills.

After working to rapidly expand the program over the past several months, Bireta said she is excited to see the new composting system’s impact on students within and beyond the lunchroom.

2022 Funding Opportunity Announcement for Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools

Applications due: Apr 21, 2023
View the full funding opportunity.

The Office of State and Community Energy Programs is issuing this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools.

The activities to be funded under this FOA support BIL section 40541 and the broader government-wide approach to support projects that enable replicable and scalable impacts, create innovative, sustaining partnerships, leverage funding and economies of scale, focus on disadvantaged communities, improve student, teacher, and occupant health, enrich learning and growth, assist schools that serve as community assets (e.g., neighborhood cooling centers or disaster recovery shelters), and are crafted thoughtfully within the context of public school facilities (e.g., procurement restraints, construction windows, etc.).

Topic Area 1 – High-Impact Energy Efficiency and Health Improvements

Proposals contemplated under this topic area will include energy improvements that result in direct reduction to school energy costs, increase energy efficiency, and lead to improvements in teacher and student health, including indoor air quality. Energy cost savings may be realized by reduced loads and/or by demand flexibility and demand response approaches.

Topic Area 2 – Innovative Energy Technology Packages

Proposals contemplated under this topic include innovative energy technology packages. Applicants may include any improvement, repair, or renovation to a school that incorporates two or more of the following energy improvements:

  • Energy efficiency measures
  • Installation of renewable energy technologies
  • Alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds
  • Purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school

DOE expects to make a total of approximately $80,000,000 of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. DOE anticipates making approximately 20-100 awards under this FOA. DOE may issue one, multiple, or no awards. Individual awards may vary between $500,000 and $15,000,000.

CDC provides science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skill development resources for K-12 teachers

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has innovative resources and trainings for K–12 teachers that support the teaching of public health. Resources focus on STEM skill development at all grade levels.

Incorporating public health into your classroom, club, or activity can give students hands-on experience doing science, which may boost their academic achievement, help them make science-backed choices throughout their lifetime, and set them on an early course for a promising STEM career.

CDC resources for K–12 teachers are designed to:

  • Teach disciplinary core content in public health sciences
  • Align with STEM disciplinary core content
  • Focus on essential skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, collaboration, and communication
  • Implement strategies that engage students in STEM through hands-on experiences and real-life epidemiology and public health scenarios

Topical areas that intersect with environmental science include cleaning the air, making water safe, getting the lead out, climate change & health, and mercury pollution prevention.