The vision of the Skyline High School's Green Energy Academy is to provide students with an opportunity to succeed in green energy careers and post-secondary green energy education by presenting them with a comprehensive educational experience, consisting of engaging and rigorous academics and hands-on learning. Skyline’s goal is to graduate a diverse body of experienced, confident, and highly motivated students who possess a sound academic background built upon through the understanding of technology, ethics and the economics of renewable energy sources.
Republished from Bay Area Green Tours
New Collaborations on Altamont Landfill and Zero Waste Tour
"This was a very inspirational field trip, because of the amazing sights we saw and the incredible knowledge we took in." - Omar, Skyline High School Student
BAGT recently received a grant from Altamont Landfill to provide Skyline High School Green Academy students the rare opportunity to participate in two stellar behind-the-scenes Zero Waste Tours. Simultaneously, we were thrilled to learn that EarthTeam received an Altamont grant to provide one of their fantastic Waste Action Projects for Skyline High - so we partnered to provide a truly in-depth understanding of waste and discard management.
EarthTeam's Waste Action Project is a service-learning project that teaches and inspires students to address waste on their school campuses and within their communities by practicing the 4R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot). Prior to our Zero Waste Tour, EarthTeam representatives visited the students for an introductory presentation on the importance of natural resource conservation, waste reduction, and their links to climate change and environmental justice. Next they conducted a student-run waste audit to assess the campus' current waste and recycling system by identifying, categorizing, and quantifying the school waste collected over one day.
Because these students had already been educated and become concerned about the issue of waste-reduction, when BAGT then followed-up with our Zero Waste Tour, this experience became far more valuable. The magnitude and significance of the issue of waste production and management became readily apparent to them. EarthTeam staff concluded by going back to the classroom where the students were shown the audit results, brainstormed solutions to the garbage generated on campus each day, and were inspired to mount their own campaign to put the consensus solutions into action! Rae Johnson of EarthTeam shared that the students who experienced our Zero Waste Tour were the first group to voluntarily extend their "Action Plan" to include the community beyond their school. We look forward to deepening our relationship with Earth Team, and continuing to develop our presence as experiential environmental educators!
Our Zero Waste Tour began at Back to the Roots, where we explored creative approaches to material reuse. During our visit to Oakland Technology Exchange, students learned how they could become involved in OTX's programming that reduces e-waste, encourages resource-sharing and offers a free computer to all Oakland students. Then, at Alameda Point Collaborative, we got our hands dirty (Go Team "Pooper Scoopers!") and examined community approaches to resource management.
As our tour finished at the Altamont facility, we were reminded that visiting a landfill is an experience that is simultaneously poignant and inspiring, and thus has a strong power to initiate action.
Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility, a 2,170-acre site, has rapidly gained international recognition as an advocate for environmental stewardship. Altamont boasts leading green energy technology solutions, including their liquified natural gas plant and electricity-generating gas-powered turbines and windmills. It's no wonder the landfill has quickly become one of our most requested tour stops!
Bay Area Green Tours Unveils Its First Water Sustainability Tour with Skyline High School ~Article and photos republished from Bay Area Green Tours
Water will soon surpass oil in public importance and value. It's hard to imagine anything similar - we need it absolutely, yet constantly take it for granted. It is strikingly local, but we must broaden our perspective to effect any systemic changes.
What would happen if we ran out of fresh water? Economics is not synonymous with life, and unfortunately, we may be witnessing the evidence of a world water crisis that will only become more acute. From pollution of the oceans to contamination of precious drinking sources, we are all affected.
BAGT has teamed up with Elizabeth Dougherty, Phd, Executive Director of the nonprofit Wholly H2O, and has developed its Water Sustainability tour to help educate people on how to better manage and conserve water, from both a personal and a global sustainability perspective.
Our first Water Sustainability Tour was led by Elizabeth Dougherty who shared her extensive knowledge of water issues and passionate dedication to conserving it with the Skyline High School's Green Academy led by Tracey Ostrom.
The day began with a walk along UC Berkeley's Strawberry Creek, where environmental scientist Tim Pine, [Supervisor for the Restoration Program / Department of Environmental Health and Safety at Cal], and his assistant Nathan Bickart, [Student Restoration Coordinator], detailed their work on creek and natural habitat restoration.
Actually being at a riparian setting to learn about our small streams and just experiencing the beautiful setting was an ideal start. To add authenticity - we had it rain! Although at times we had to contend with wet weather over the course of the day, it served to reinforce water as the theme of the tour.
The students learned quick, simple changes they could make at home to help curb water and energy usage from the Rising Sun Energy Center staff and found out about their summer job program.
Rising Sun Energy Center leads a unique youth empowerment and conservation program throughout over 10 cities in the Bay Area. Students also explored alternative landscaping methods through rainwater harvesting at the Urban Farmer Store in Richmond.
The final stop provided a look at a water reuse demonstration project - a tour led by Beck Cowles (Ecology Center, Berkeley) of the Berkeley EcoHouse, which boasts the first city-approved greywater installation.
BAGT's goal is to expand upon this first tour so that high school students (and other groups) from the bay area can experience the vital education presented through a factual and fun-filled Water Sustainability Tour.
Republished from EarthTeam
"I joined [EarthTeam] to have an experience close to what I am going to study in college, environmental science, and also to get to be outside more often. What I hope to get out of this program is more knowledge about restoration and some job experience for later in life. What I want to accomplish through EJL is getting to be unrestrained in my ideas of how to save the environment." --Gabby
EarthTeam's student of the month for December is Gabriella Greene-Dittz, a senior at Skyline High School. Gabby is an intern at Skyline's Schoolyard Restoration Project.
Gabby has had flawless attendance at all internship meetings and is a vocal contributor to brainstorming sessions for the group's redwood habitat restoration site on campus.
Most recently, she researched and conducted a presentation on the Peace on Earthbench Movement, an organization that teaches the public to build bottle bricks from plastic trash and create structures like benches, chairs, etc. from cob and bottle bricks. She hopes to start momentum on campus to build bottle bricks and create a bench for the restoration space.
On Monday, December 3, 2012, Skyline High School's Green Energy Academy celebrated the installation of two 2825 gallon rainwater catchment tanks near the school's science wing.
The tanks were installed by Dig Cooperative, an employee owned ecological design/build firm, as part of a citywide program to advance rainwater management, conservation and storm-water run-off.
The project was funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (More details about Oakland's program here)
~Slides by Ingrid Severson of DIG Cooperative
As part of the celebration, Dig's Babak Tondre provided an overview of the system to Tracy Ostrom's AP Environmental Science students- explaining the need for rain water catchment, design and operation details, and job opportunities in environmental contracting.
According to Tondre, Skyline's system captures rain from a portion of Building 60's roof by filtering rain just before it enters the downspouts, then routing the downspouts to an underground first flush filter system before rainwater is collected in the barrels.
"After the Oakland Hills fire, the city became very concerned about the erosion impacts from run-off and the need for local storage of water, especially in the Oakland hills," explains Tondre, "Also, most of California's water falls in the winter- so catchment is needed to extend the use of rain water in to the summer drought months."
Ostrom plans to use the catchment system as a teaching tool throughout the grade levels in the Green Energy Academy. "In biology, we might run tests to see how seeds and plants grow when watered with rainwater vs. treated city water. ·In physics, we can experiment with student-made water wheels to investigate how hydro-electric systems work."
Dig completed its installation of the barrels just days before the recent rains. Two rain events were enough to completely fill the two barrels. Overflow spouts direct extra water into a native plant garden and drainage system.
In the coming weeks, Green Energy Academy students will install new planter boxes next to the rain barrels and investigate human powered pump systems to increase water flow when watering landscaped areas of campus.
In the long term, Ostrom hopes to explore expanded uses of harvested rain noting, "the barrels are installed just outside of two restrooms- wouldn't it be great to use rain water instead of treated water for our toilets?"
Skyline High School's Advanced Ceramics class created a turtle mosaic to highlight the impacts of plastic on the environment. Earlier this month, the turtle was installed in the school's science wing.
From the class's artist statement:
"The Ceramic Turtle Project is an artistic commentary about society's overuse and consumption of plastic. Millions of pounds of plastic are thrown away every year; much of it ends up in waterways and oceans, detrimentally affecting wildlife and habitats.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a cesspool of toxic plastics and wastes, located in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas! And because plastic takes several thousand years to breakdown, this problem will outlive its source.
The problem is a consequence of our throwaway society. This turtle is composed of common one-use plastic products: coffee caps, plastic spoons, forks, containers, and water bottles. The first step to fixing the problem is to ease our use of plastic.
There are many steps an individual can take to decrease their environmental impacts: use reusable containers, buy a reusable water bottle. Opt for a canvas shopping bag. We are all connected to this planet and ever one of our actions matters.
'When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world' –John Muir"