Green Eagles

School Address: 
1208 Kentucky
Lawrence, KS 66044
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Contact Name: 
Rachel Myslivy
Email
[javascript protected email address]
Phone: 
(785) 424-4115
Education level or type: 
K-8
School Name: 
St. John School
School District Name and Number: 
USD 497
How are you incorporating your environmental projects into your school's curriculum?: 
The St. John Green School initiative integrates environmental education across the curriculum, encouraging students and teachers to become better stewards of the environment. The need to understand diverse environmental issues in real and practical ways becomes more pressing every day. As we face realities of climate change, resource depletion and nature-deficit disorder in children, the need to engage children in new and innovative ways is critical. Preparing children to be good environmental citizens is a primary means of effecting long-term change. Increasing the environmental literacy of the youth of Lawrence will pay dividends beyond measure. Teachers of St. John School are committed to environmental education in the classroom and engage students in many ways. Through an all-of-the-above, multifaceted approach celebrating the skills and interests of teachers and utilizing the existing science curriculum, teachers infuse environmental education throughout the school. The St. John Green School plan is to increase awareness of resource conservation by implementing energy efficiency practices school-wide and to increase nature-based learning opportunities throughout the building and grounds. Using inquiry-based education, kids will assess current energy usage of the school, brainstorm solutions and monitor savings over time we strive for greater efficiency. These efforts will engage kids in practical resource conservation and efficiency education while offering hands-on use of math and science skills. The efforts to bring nature into the school will promote an understanding of nature, life cycles, principles of stewardship and care for creation. Students have ample opportunities for artistic expression through this initiative by participating in the green school logo contest and creating signage for the green school effort. Additionally, the Good Green Fun Family night in November and whole-school Earth Week activities will foster creative engagement through language arts, physical education, Spanish language, music and art. Children in the younger grades engage actively in the preservation and understanding of nature while the older grades will focus more on resource conservation and energy efficiency. Efforts are aligned with the Kansas Green Schools Investigations which provide educational opportunities “that increase awareness and understanding of environmental interrelationships that impact public health and our society, and that promote responsible environmental stewardship practices.” K-2 classrooms The grounds of St. John School offer limited access to green spaces, however our kindergarteners take great pride in cultivating the small garden outside their room which is maintained all-year by the kindergarten teacher. First grade science classes will learn about local habitats. 2nd Grade will learn about the life-cycle of butterflies using a Monarch Watch Butterfly rearing kit and Butterfly pavilion. Students will witness first-hand, in the classroom, the development of these amazing creatures, then tag and release them in the spring. Using the window bird feeders, the primary grades will participate in the Audubon Society Backyard Bird Count which will provide unique math activities: just picture kindergarteners with clip boards practicing hash marks by counting avian visitors. The butterfly pavilion, bird feeders, habitat models will help bring the outside inside in new and creative ways, engaging the entire school in nature awareness. 3rd Graders will conduct the Energy Investigation, learning how energy usage affects nearly every other environmental issue from natural resource conservation to pollution to climate change. Through a partnership with Westar Energy, students of all grades will learn how to use the Kill-a-watt meters to measure energy usage at home and at school. Students will use light meters and thermal laser pointers to identify over-lit and over-heated/cooled areas. Motion-sensor lights will both reduce energy consumption and encourage children to be mindful of energy waste in lighting. The energy meters will become a permanent addition to the school library, available for students to “check out” to conduct energy investigations at home. Guided by staff from the Bowersock Mills, students will learn about the new hydroelectric power plant and renewable energy sources. Additionally, staff from Sabatini Architects will teach the children about energy efficient features of the new middle school addition (completed in 2013). The “new building” will provide amazing opportunities for comparative measurement over the years. The 3rd grade investigation into energy usage of the original school will provide a baseline for energy reductions while the new building offers a “best case scenario” that will challenge students to think of new ways to reduce consumption in the old building. 4th-5th Grades will study about waste, recycling, source reduction, reuse and composting. The Waste investigation provides opportunities for students to engage in scientific inquiry, problem-solving and critical thinking as they investigate, gather data, analyze and propose solutions. The Recycling Education Kit will include activities about landfills, reuse of materials, recycling capabilities, zero-waste initiatives and life-cycles of common objects such as soccer balls and cell phones. Students will learn about the existing lunchroom composting program, and will maintain a vermicomposter on school grounds. The 4th grade field trip to EarthWorks KC will supplement this investigation. 6th-7th Grades will lead the school’s Green initiative by creating a Green School Pledge, conducting a logo design contest and creating fundraising plans for long-term energy efficiency upgrades and environmental education. Additionally, the older grades will conduct the Water Investigation in conjunction with the 30-hour famine program. The 30-hour famine program puts issues of hunger, pollution and water quality in a social justice context. The Water investigation will challenge students to address their own water usage and encourage water efficiency in the school. Students will measure the existing water waste in the school compared to the reduced water use after installation of the aerators in all faucets. Additionally, the older students will learn about issues of eco-justice using the Lent 4.5 curriculum. The data collected through the investigations will provide excellent opportunities to teach math in real-life ways. In Library, all students expand upon issues relating to ongoing investigations thus supporting the whole-school effort. It is worth noting that classrooms are used for multiple grades and teachers wear several hats. For instance, the 2nd grade science teacher also teaches art for all primary grades – all of these children will be drawn into the magic of the butterfly life cycle on a daily basis. Artwork decorating the halls celebrates current classroom activities. When exciting opportunities occur, other classes will be invited to observe. Opportunities for incidental learning abound. Using the KS Green School Investigations, children will gather data on energy and water usage before, during and after efficiency upgrades. Once the new energy-efficient addition is completed, students will compare the “old school” with the “new school” further expanding the realities of energy savings and resulting money savings. Students will update the larger school community on energy savings and financial equivalents via newsletters and signage throughout the school. The St. John Green School Green Team will track the implementation of Green School effort and share our successes at the Lawrence Earth Day Celebration thus encouraging encourage other schools to embark on this exciting educational opportunity.
Accomplishments: 
Received a grant from the Elizabeth Schultz Environmental Fund to kick-start our Green School Efforts with educational tools, energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades to the existing building as well as the new classrooms currently under construction Good Green Fun Night included a scavenger hunt with facts on water, energy and waste. Recycled materials were used for the crafts. School wide Green School Logo Contest Earth Works Field Trip for 4th Grade classes Green Themed Science Fair Waste Investigation Learning Community Investigation Green Team in place and committed to action Mission Statement Adopted Art curriculum focusing on recycled materials and environmental art Green Newsletter Option Regular updates on Green School Effort shared with school community Established a school-wide composting program during the 2011-2012 school year.