Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Student Projects

UC Merced’s Mobile App Challenge will run again this year, supported by Students for a Smarter Planet. Here is a video from last time.

 

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Congratulations to

Lumbini Engineering College, Nepal for “GPS/SMS Vehicle Tracking System”

Istanbul Technical University, Turkey for “ITU Solar Car Team – making the electric car road ready and touring Turkey to promote alternate fuels”

Chanhassen High School, Minnesota, USA for 5 projects:

  • Meshwork:  decentralized internet communications
  • Eco-Friendly Zamboni:  Zamboni with reduced emissions and water reuse
  • The PSC4: solar-powered game console
  • Custom John Deere Ice Resurfacer: Zamboni with complete water/ice reuse
  • Human Powered Bicycle Mower: zero emissions mower

 

 

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The Engineers for a Sustainable World Educational Outreach Group from the University at Buffalo recently visited Springville Elementary School to teach the first grade classes about recycling and composting. We expected the kids to know about recycling, but maybe not exactly what items could be recycled. Therefore, our goal was to show them what could be turned into something new (recycled), what was trash, and what could be composted. Since composting is a relatively new way to help the environment, we were prepared to explain the whole process to the students before showing them what could be composted.

It turns out that the classrooms only recycled paper, so teaching the kids about what other things could be recycled, like clothes and batteries, seemed to be quite beneficial. We were able to help them make the connection between what was able to be thrown in the blue recycle box and what could be recycled in other ways. There is a reason for all three arrows of the recycle symbol: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

We were actually very surprised to learn that every class had a student that could tell us everything about composting. In fact, one little girl’s family composted regularly! I know that I was not taught anything about the process growing up, so the fact that six and seven year olds could explain it to us was very exciting.

By the end of the lesson, the kids were all able to help us sort our items into recycle, compost, and trash categories, and did so very enthusiastically. This experience is proof that we are effectively teaching young minds about how important keeping the earth healthy is. It seems that our world is in good hands, no matter how small those hands are right now.

Holding our discussion on recycling.

Holding our discussion on recycling.

A sorting activity- the students definitely brought their energy!

A sorting activity- the students definitely brought their energy!

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…. but something else quite unexpected.  Remember video cassettes, those big black boxes that played pictures? They were the ancestors to DVDs. They no longer have to occupy our landfills – some 4,000 of them have been used to build a house, along with two tons of denim jeans, 2,000 used carpet tiles and 20,000 used toothbrushes.

Britain’s first house made almost entirely from rubbish is based at the University of Brighton. From the kitchen counter made from coffee cups, to the stairs made from paper, this live research project will pave the way for entrepreneurs to find sustainable ways to construct housing.

blog house2

The construction industry currently discards 20% of everything it uses, meaning that for every five houses built enough waste is generated to build one extra house.

As the cost of raw materials continues to rise, the UK’s first A rated energy-efficient building made from waste, may be the first of many.

Would you want to live in one of these energy-efficient houses, or better yet, would you like to be credited with building one?

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In just under a week’s time, students from the University at Buffalo (myself included) will be visiting a local elementary school to teach the first graders about recycling. This is part of an educational outreach project for the University at Buffalo’s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW)- a national environmental organization. Our goal is to simply teach the students what and how to recycle so that future generations will be more environmentally conscious.

Our day will start out early, arriving at the elementary school at 8:30 am, prior to the students’ arrivals. Throughout the day we will have a total of five classrooms to visit (and over 100 students)- we’re definitely going to have to bring the energy! We will start our lesson by asking the students what they know about recycling to stimulate some discussion on the topic. After teaching the students what items should be recycled, we will play a game with the entire class. The game will be on an interactive poster that each classroom may keep, hand-crafted by the members of ESW. Each poster is divided into three sections representing a trash, recycling, and compost bin, and the students can sort pictures of various items into their respective bins.

We hope that these activities will keep the students engaged and interested- six and seven year olds can be pretty unpredictable. Stay tuned to see how everything went!

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