George Lucas Educational Foundation

Green Projects

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What types of green projects can be found around your classroom and/or school?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Dave Riddell's picture
Dave Riddell
Environmental scientist and educator

Hi folks,

Sorry to be a link hog, but it's the easier way for me to share this info. I hope you find it useful!

We started off with tree nurseries and a native wildflower garden:

...before we took on our most ambitious project -- a constructed wetland:
(successive posts detail its continual development).

Two of the tree nursery beds at the school were converted into an organic vegetable garden earlier this year:

...and, at another school, we've just completed a low-impact nature trail:

...complete with interpretive signage:

Looking forward to reading about what other projects are out there.

Stay wild.
Dave (@pathways)

Teresa's picture
Montessori Public School Coordinator in Florida

In Palm Beach County, FL, our district has mandated recycling at every school and the school board is making strides to reduce energy and water consumption throughout our HUGE district. Here are a variety of projects we are implementing/have implemented at our little school.

Self sustaining recycling: We have to pay for commingle recycling (plastic, glass, aluminum) service, so our green guru managed to work out a deal with a paper recycling company that pays for our paper recyclables. As long as we recycle enough paper (newspaper, copy paper, notebook paper, etc.) it pays for our commingle recycling service. While we have always used PLENTY of paper, we are also making an effort to reduce our paper consumption, so we have also asked parents to bring their paper recyclables from home (most household recycling services do not accept office paper).

Community Garden: In addition to class gardens, we participate in a community garden project. Down the street from our school, a local church started a community garden - 50% of our harvest must be donated to a local food bank. Students and parents work the garden (organized by our PTA). We grow broccoli, lettuce, peppers, cukes, and other veggies.

Hydroponic Garden: This year we are starting a hydroponic garden and plan to grow strawberries! Another local school, Pine Jog Elementary, has a very successful hydroponic garden and offered a workshop on getting one started. Then our long-time business partner, Office Depot, offered to provide the funds for our first hydroponic garden setup ($350). If all goes well, we hope to add another setup each year.

The students will participate in scientific investigations comparing the growth of our plants in the hydroponic garden to plants in container gardens and plants in the ground. Students will measure the water and electricity (for hydroponic) used and the harvests produced from each.

Vermiculture: Our green guru started a vermiculture compost project. She has a large basin with about 1000 worms who graciously accept our donations of organic waste (lunch scraps) and efficiently turn them into rich compost. Of course we use the compost on our classroom gardens! It is amazing to everyone that the vermiculture does not create any odor whatsoever! Very cool classroom project!

Rain Barrels: A few of our teachers started rain barrels this year for their gardens. With the help of parent volunteers, they created a rain barrel system that collects and stores rain water and is connected to a hose that distributes (irrigates) the water across the classroom garden as needed.

Community Partnership: We have created a partnership with the local neighborhood association - they volunteer to tend our class gardens all summer so that the plants do not die. We asked them to harvest any fruits/veggies that ripen (they keep them for their families) throughout the summer. Through this partnership, our plants remain healthy and safe - the neighbors take care of our campus and we do our little part to help the neighborhood!

Our latest plan is to start another partnership with a local museum. We want to start an annual Earth Day art project - to paint an eco-mural on a public building each year. We hope to create a collaboration between the Old School Square Museum and among high schools, middle schools and elementary schools in our small town to work together to paint at least one mural each year for Earth Day. Wish me luck!

Teresa's picture
Montessori Public School Coordinator in Florida

What is the GLOBE program?

Linda Rudes's picture

In our elementary school the Going Green Committee came up with an idea to reduce the amount of trash that we create during lunchtime. Our project, entitled SMASH THE TRASH! will run for three weeks in April, with each week giving students the opportunity to "earn" points for bringing in reusable drink bottles, reusable lunch bags/boxes and reusable food containers. The evidence of our success will be the decreased amount of garbage (measured by the number of garbage bins) that we have at the end of the month. Grade levels compete against each other with staff members included and able to earn points for their grade level. Friendly competition will encourage everyone to participate and help to make small changes in their everyday life.

Kathy lindstrom's picture
Kathy lindstrom
High School Language Arts /AP teachers

Awesome posts and ideas. Very inspiring!! Where would any of you suggest looking for some grants or anything to help fund projects?

Stephanie Shawn's picture

At our middle school in Los Angeles, students work in their advisory courses to plan and implement green initiatives. Right now, my students are working on a variety of committees they created to promote recycling, reducing, reusing and rethinking.

Some students have taken on the role of being "RRRR Officers" - making sure students are doing their part by monitoring the bathrooms and enforcing the rules of recycling.

Other students have planned a modern day "agora" or marketplace (idea taken from study of ancient Greece), where students bring their old items in and trade them with each other.

Others are getting the school involved in various challenges, including a shower challenge, outdoor challenge, and liquid challenge, in which students are encouraged and rewarded for their efforts to "RRRR."

In addition, we are trying to sew reusable grocery bags to eliminate the use of plastic.

It's very cool to see the students empowered to see these projects through, and I hope in years to come our school can get some of the aforementioned projects happening, too!

Shari Sjogren's picture

I am currently student teaching in a New Zealand school at the intermediate level. This school of 1200 students has a "no rubbish" policy (recycling bins are provided). A school without garbage cans! It is a sort of a "pack it in, pack it out" culture. This is becoming more common in both schools and parks around New Zealand. I'm told that it is most effective when they start at the elementary level. Along with learning to tie their shoes, students learn to pack back up their lunch trash in their lunch box and bring it home with them. It isn't perfect, but for the most part it's working.

Feel free to speculate on what the desired and actual learning outcomes are.

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