Greening the School One Step at a Time

Students analyzed the problem in several steps. They measured the amount of waste generated at their school, and broke down the parts that were compostable and recyclable. A tour of the Ecomaine facility in the fall provided more information about waste management. Along with Ecomaine, community partners included custodial and cafeteria staff at the school.

Students collected and analyzed quantitative compost data. When problems arose with the compost system, such as too much food waste or a bad odor, students dug into their research. When they found likely causes, they examined solutions and tried them. With a new compost tumbler donated by Poland Spring Water Co., the kids are continuing to improve and expand the composting project.

Reducing energy use for classroom lighting was another initiative. The overhead traditional fluorescent bulbs in their classroom used 675 watts of power. By switching to task lighting using compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), the students calculated that they could reduce the electricity requirement to only 143 watts—80% less.

Educating the school community about composting, recycling, and other ways to go green was a big part of the class’s project.

All 25 students in the class have been sworn in as Green Police Officers. They escort younger students with their boxes to the paper recycling totes, and help the school community recycle and compost properly.

These green programs will continue to benefit the students and school. The school garden produces beans and other vegetables that can supplement school lunches. The lessons learned will also stay with the kids, who reflected on their work throughout the year with journaling, class discussion, and by creating a presentation