Project Spotlight: GreenTECH
STELAR recently connected with Sarah Pidgeon (Solar One) about the GreenTECH project, which is a three-year project focusing on green technology and careers at the high school level. Partners are: Solar One, a Green Energy Arts and Education Center; MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools & Education), a youth development program that prepares young people to serve as technology experts; the Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education at New York University, and the New York City Department of Education (DOE). The GreenTECH program combines the successful methodology of the Solar One Green Design Lab program with the highly effective approach of MOUSE Technical Squads.
Please visit the Green Design Lab's website here: thegreendesignlab.org.
* Can you share how your ITEST project impacts youth?
The GreenTECH project provides high school students with opportunities to explore STEM related education and career pathways through project based learning, career speakers, online resources, field trips, and job shadowing. The program is designed to develop high school students' knowledge, interest, and self-efficacy in STEM, increase interest in STEM-related careers, and also to provide students with the resources they need to become sustainability activists in their schools and communities.
* What excites you most about the work you do every day?
Solar One's curriculum is designed to be hands-on and experiential. Working in NYC high schools and providing students and teachers with these experiences has been very exciting. There is nothing more rewarding than witnessing a student's "aha!" moment when they understand how a solar panel works, why sea levels are rising, or how the school's boiler room provides heat for the building.
* What do you think is the most important learning in this area based on your project work to-date?
The project-based lessons we have developed provide students with opportunities to engage in real world engineering and design, which has the capacity to boost student interest in helping the environment or pursuing a green career. For example, at one of our partner schools students conducted an energy audit of the school building, submitted data to the NYC DOE Division of School Facilities, and as a result of the student report the city installed vacancy sensors on lights at the school. The students were able to witness their efforts make a significant real-world impact.
* What strategies have you found most effective for sharing your project’s work and findings with broader audiences?
I think that creating an online learning community is vital, it helps teachers and partners have access to resources they need for successful program design and implementation. I also think that providing in depth training for teachers that work directly with youth ensures that the program is sustainable, and increases our program impact and capacity.