Sustainability for Students

For the past few years I’ve had a chance to work on a variety of projects around Sustainability and Education. In 2016 I initiated a conversation with Chatham University, South Fayette, and Fort Cherry School Districts around Sustainable Issues. This led to the Seeds of Change conference that will occur this year on March 4, 2019 at the Eden Hall campus of Chatham. I have also worked on a variety of Sustainability Design Challenges for the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh with schools from the Parkway West Consortium of Schools. We’ve looked at food, gardening, water management, and energy issues. I’m just beginning to develop Sustainable Energy projects around solar and other sustainable energies with a local Pittsburgh company, AYA Instruments, and the Community Day School of Pittsburgh.

Sustainability projects are also growing worldwide. Birdbrain Technologies, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company,  found its way to the 2019 World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Each year Salesforce.com sponsors an activity around sustainability and recycling. Here’s a blurb from the Birdbrain Chirps that outlines what happened. (Make sure you check out the video at the end of the article.)

Leaders of over 100 governments and more than 1,000 global businesses came together at this annual meeting to create an agenda to improve the state of the world. And with programming and robotics as a vehicle, students were able to have a seat at the table.

Educator Su Adams from the United Kingdom helped lead students in Salesforce’s Davos Code 2019 event, where they were prompted to create a window display to show how they plan to keep plastics out of the ocean. This display was showcased for leaders to see throughout the course of the forum.

“The learning opportunities reached much further than programming alone can achieve, as students were tasked with turning process-based sentences into a visual representation for their collective diorama,” Adams says.

Prior to the event students began collecting plastics in Davos, which were repurposed into new creations at Davos Code 2019. Students used their own shredder and moulder machines to create their building blocks. With the help of the Hummingbird Robotics Kit, models were brought to life to illustrate their messages about plastic reuse.

This project had a monumental effect outside of the World Economic Forum. “Previously, very little plastic was recycled in the local community,” says Adams. “Following a campaign which spanned just 6 months, students affected change at a local government level when the municipality of Davos provided bins for recycling in their local environment. The diorama provided the perfect medium for celebrating the achievements of their campaign.”

By demonstrating better uses for plastic through their robotics diorama, a sustainable impact was made in the community for generations to come.

Adams summarizes, “There were highs and lows, frustrations and jubilance. Everyone experienced the payback that investment of time, effort, and teamwork provide.”

LEARN MORE by watching this video

Preview of 2017 K-12 Horizon Report

[This year I was part of the team selecting the Emerging Technologies, Trends, and Challenges for the global K-12 world. The team had members around the world. I served on the team representing the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). When I served as the Coordinator of Educational Technology for the Fox Chapel Area School District, I used the report annually to benchmark the district goals for integrating technology into the learning process. In my teaching at Carnegie Mellon University I always shared the document with my students who worked on their technology plans or other planning document. ]

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

The expert panel has completed voting and the topics for the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report > 2017 K-12 Edition have been selected — below. The K12 Project as whole is led by the New Media Consortium, in collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and made possible by mindSpark Learning (formerly known as Share Fair Nation). The report is set to be released in August, 2017. We’re now looking for any projects, programs, policies, or leadership initiatives that fit any of the below chosen areas, to be submitted here. Download the official NMC/CoSN Horizon Report Preview > 2017 K-12 Edition to view definitions of the topics below or check out the related discussions of all of the final topics in the 2017 Horizon.k12 Workspace.

I. Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Tech Adoption

 Long-Term Trends: Driving edtech adoption in K-12 education for five or more years

  • Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • Deeper Learning Approaches

Mid-Term Trends: Driving edtech adoption in K-12 education for the next three to five years

  • Growing Focus on Measuring Learning
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces

Short-Term Trends: Driving edtech adoption in K-12 education for the next one to two years

  • Coding as a Literacy
  • Rise of STEAM Learning

II. Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Tech Adoption

Solvable Challenges: Those which we both understand and know how to solve

  • Authentic Learning Experiences
  • Improving Digital Literacy

Difficult Challenges: Those we understand but for which solutions are elusive

  • Rethinking the Roles of Teachers
  • Teaching Complex Thinking

Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address

  • The Achievement Gap
  • Sustaining Innovation through Leadership Changes

III.  Important Developments in Educational Technology for K-12

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

  • Makerspaces
  • Robotics

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

  • Analytics Technologies
  • Virtual Reality

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things

Math and Science Outside the Classroom

[In today’s world it’s not enough to just target STEM during school hours. I serve on the Board of the Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA) in Pittsburgh, an umbrella organization that provides funding and programmatic opportunities for community and faith-based organizations to work with young people in after-school and out-of-school programs. Several years ago NLA developed its Warrior program where high school students are trained to work with younger and older learners. Today over a thousand learners gain new opportunities through the NLA Warrior program. It’s exactly the type of program that every community should develop. In the following article you’ll discover similar programs around the country. You have a chance to help these projects by donating to DonorsChoose, an organization I use to support programs in the Pittsburgh area.]

April 4, 2017 by William Broman

Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Guest Post By Science Everywhere, a collaboration between Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation

Teachers across the country and at all grade levels are coming up with fascinating outside-school math and science projects on DonorsChoose.org through the Science Everywhere campaign. Thanks to match funding from Overdeck Family Foundation and the Simons Foundation, everyday donors can double their impact by contributing to projects that speak to them. Projects that still need funding range from a gardening project at a Florida elementary school, to “weekend weather kits” for students in Missouri, to robotics materials for high schoolers in Indiana.

Five projects that need funding to become a reality:

Research shows that outside-school engagement is essential to boosting math and science learning. Viewing learning opportunities as “charging stations” helps to visualize why it’s so important: students who are surrounded by opportunities to “charge up” their learning – attending afterschool programs, going to museums, exploring science centers – can apply the concepts they learn in class to everyday life and develop a fluency with math and science that helps them succeed. Students who live in “dead zones” with fewer opportunities to do math and science outside school can find it hard to keep up.

Science Everywhere hopes to help teachers inspire kids to understand and love math and science in exciting, new ways. The skills young people develop doing math and science – critical thinking, problem solving, experimentation, and more – are incredibly valuable in all aspects of life. Since students spend 80 percent of their time outside of school, these critical subjects should be part of their daily lives. As part of the campaign, the foundations are matching donations from the public to fund outside-school math and science projects submitted by teachers to DonorsChoose.org. At the end of the challenge, five $5,000 prizes will be awarded to the teachers who come up with the best ideas.

Teachers have until April 30, 2017 to submit qualifying projects on DonorsChoose.org to be considered for one of five $5,000 prizes. The winning teachers will be announced on September 5, 2017.