GSC - "Student Actions to Reduce Your School's Environmental Footprint- Eco Audits and Hands-on Inquiry-based Projects"
Notes from the Green Schools Conference
Deborah Moore's session introduced the topics quite well. She shared with the group a short video about her organization, Green Schools Initiative. The 4 pillars of a green school are:
Strive to be toxics-free
Use resources sustainably
Create green spaces
Engage students in the process of change
She also went through the 7 steps to create green schools (see http://www.greenschools.net/ for more information.) She outlined the multiple benefits of hands-on education. David Sobel, Center for Place Based Education has found that schools that have strong environmental education programs out-perform those schools that don't. She outlined the key elements of Inquiry-based learning: active learning, formulating questions and finding answers. Steps include introducing the topic, doing a school audit, collect information, compile data and results and empower students to reach out to education the community. Many schools have put their outreach projects on her website as case studies.
At this point, she had workshop participants go through an audit, using her materials. Each group shared their results. She also encouraged schools to publicize audit results school-wide as events such as Earth Day celebrations, assemblies, Service Learning events, and through clubs and councils. A school year plan can significantly help teachers implement any changes without feeling overwhelmed. Los Angeles Unified School District is giving money back to schools that save energy. Sample school board policies can be found on her website. She also encouraged all participants to visit www.facingthefuture.org for excellent resources.