Program to Make Hannah Gibbons, Euclid Park Students Eco-conscious
Students at nine CMSD schools, including Hannah Gibbons and Euclid Park, are going to get an up-close look at their school's carbon footprint with the installation of a tool that tracks the flow of electricity in their building. The program, called Environmental Dashboard, is being funded by Oberlin College, which received a $49,690 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Education. CMSD is among three urban districts in the state to benefit from the grant, which will cover the costs of rolling out Environmental Dashboard at Mound, Orchard, Hannah Gibbons, George Washington Carver, Buhrer Dual Language, Garfield, Almira and Euclid Park schools and East Tech High School.
Environmental Dashboard shows students real-time data about the amount of electricity their school uses monthly, daily or even hourly. Teachers will develop lessons to help students interpret what this data means, how electricity use affects the environment and what they can do to reduce their school's own environmental impact, said Timothy Sisson, who coordinates STEM content in District schools. For example, if students make an effort to turn off the lights every time they leave a room, they can check the dashboard to see how this affects overall electricity use in their building.
The hope is that students will develop habits that conserve resources and benefit the environment. “They start seeing that if more of us did these things across the community, the city, the state, the country and the world, they can have a greater impact on the global environment,” Sisson said. The program was developed by scientists at Oberlin and implemented over several years in buildings on the campus, across the city of Oberlin and in Oberlin's public schools. The dashboard combines real-time feedback with community voices to draw attention to positive actions of youth and community members who are already working to build more resilient and sustainable communities. Partnering with Oberlin and Palmer Conservation Consulting, a Toledo-based energy consulting firm, the schools will install meters and flat-screen TVs placed in select classrooms to display data. They will begin with just electricity meters, with plans to later expand to other utilities like water and gas. Classrooms will be able access information about real-time electricity use in their building on a public website. The CMSD rollout will begin in February, when teachers at the participating schools will meet with an Oberlin team to learn about the technology and develop lessons around it. The District also hopes to see long-term benefits as students are exposed to the increasingly relevant field of environmental science.
“There’s a need for students to have a strong background in environmental science in terms of college and career readiness because green industries are growing by leaps and bounds, particularly in Northeast Ohio,” said Kirsten Mahovlich, science curriculum coordinator for grades 7-12.
It's also a chance for schools to connect with their neighborhoods.
Environmental Dashboard building data will be available to the community on an interactive public website, Sisson said. Anyone with internet access can check the gauges to get real-time data about electricity use in the connected schools. More information on Environmental Dashboard and examples of the technology in action in Oberlin are available at environmental dashboard.org
CMSD News Bureau