Ryan Smith, a teacher at Polo Park Middle School, is one of 10 finalists in the Tom’s of Maine, Green Your School for the Greater Good contest. Teachers were tasked with creating an original environmental science project for their students that combines hands-on learning with pressing environmental issues.
Voting will continue until Oct. 17, and the winners will be announced in November.
Smith’s project, “the Green Stallion Project,” was designed to help his students acquire plant sensors to monitor plant health; tablets to track garden data, energy usage and recycling data; and a thermal imager to monitor energy efficiency.
By giving Polo Park students the tools to take action now, Smith’s goal is for them to see that they can make a positive impact on their own lives and the lives of others. The objective of the Green Stallion Project is to engage them at each grade level in the school’s mission of sustainability. To do this, the students will be assigned responsibilities that both meet the project objectives and align most closely to that grade level’s science standards. Last year, Smith’s students worked hard building an outdoor classroom, maintaining a garden and promoting energy conservation. Because of these efforts, Polo Park was named a 2016 Green School of Quality.
Unfortunately, the program lacked the quantitative evidence to show that the efforts were productive, and did not reach the Green School of Excellence level. The goal for 2016-17 is to reach more students and move up to that Green School of Excellence category. This project will place a heavy emphasis on data collection and analysis to make better decisions regarding sustainability and evaluate whether or not the efforts are yielding positive results.
“As in years past, sixth-grade students will be responsible for collecting recycling materials. But they will now be weighing what they have collected and tracking their results in Google Forms, using one of the requested tablets,” Smith said. “The seventh-grade students will be responsible for collecting food waste, weighing it, recording their results on their tablet and transferring the waste to the composter. The eighth-grade students will be responsible for maintaining the garden and tracking and recording data received from the Parrot Flower Power sensors. They will also monitor weather conditions using the RainMachine to adjust our irrigation system based on weather patterns. Finally, our STEM students will be responsible for performing school-wide energy audits and use the FLIR thermal camera to identify inefficiencies in our school buildings. They will also be responsible for creating and maintaining a web site that tracks energy and water usage, recycling data and garden data.”
This project will allow Smith to involve students at every grade level in the school’s mission to make Polo Park a Green School of Excellence.
“Too often, learning is confined by the walls of our classroom. This project will give the students at our school the opportunity to move beyond the classroom and make a real and measurable impact on our campus, our community and beyond,” he said.
Vote and share to help Polo Park win this green schools contest. To vote for the Green Stallion Project, visit www.tomsofmaine.com/greenschoolfund.