Suggestions for a Sustainability Science Summer School
Name: Sustainability Science Summer School
Rationale: The topics we seem to be interested in seem to all fit under this theme. Need a catchier name, though?!
Length: Either 6 days, or 13 days.
Rationale: 5 workweek days to get students/participants amped up, 1 weekend day to involve/show-off the class project to parents, or to have a field trip, or compete with the parents in a sustainability quiz game show that we put on. Trust me, the students will win.
Sample Daily Schedule:
- Topic 1 Lecture,
- Topic 1 Lab,
- Topic 2 Lecture,
- Topic 2 Lab,
- Project Work,
- Physical Activity,
- Topic 3 Lecture,
- Topic 3 Lab,
- Wrap-Up Activity.
Rationale: Alternate Lecture and Lab (Hands-On) portions, where lecture duration is from 15-45min, and hands-on portions much longer, so as to maintain emphasis on D.I.Y. and experiential learning. Show a few short films here and there, where relevant and interesting. Keep activity and engagement levels up by changing topics 3-4 times each day. Make sure that the check-in and wrap-up periods are highly interactive, looking for participants to weigh in on what works best for them, and what they're jazzed about.
Daily Thematic Content.
Sample Daily Topics (6 day course):
- Water Use/Greywater/Rainwater Harvesting,
- Biodiversity/Ecology/Food Chain,
- Geology/Soil Biology/Agriculture,
- Engines/Energy/Transport Tech/Biofuel,
- Climate/Coastal Processes/Air, Soil, Water Pollution/Wetlands/Remediation,
- Field Trip or Project Show-off or Game Show
Rationale: Any given day will have a set of basic, simple to summarize themes. The hands-on portion will necessarily integrate across various disciplines, including math and the physical and biological sciences, in particular applied science, i.e. on the transportation technology day, we can build/fix bikes, work with electrical motors, etc. after students understand some basic scientific principles. On the water day, we can get an idea of the scale of our daily individual water usage, then scale that up to the population of CA, and assemble a greywater system, a simple L2L one. Ideally, we could have a class project, i.e. building a small turbine that could be used to say, vent a composting toilet.
Creative Commons Curriculum & Peer-to-Peer Mentorship.
As we proceed and develop this first course, and presumably courses every summer, we will find that we (1) have developed our own sustainability science curricula, and that we (2) require courses at two or three levels for repeat students.
Regarding (1), I propose that we license our curricula within the creative commons schema (as I have with the content of this email, which is posted online at http://grassrootsgaia.org/node/41). The point of this licensing is to stimulate imitation across the globe, and to have the means to respectfully request that they be high-caliber, and if the imitations are run for profit, to help fund further innovation on our part.
Regarding (2), The peer-to-peer mentorship will consist of previous summer school participants who of their own initiative want to mentor students doing the beginner course the following year. This would require that we have two separate time periods for courses so that our mentors don't miss the advanced course while they're mentoring for the beginning course. Students involved in the peer-to-peer mentorship will likely be engaged enough to swing by the science resource pod during the rest of the year as well, and so we may want to consider an internship program to take place during the school year (a.k.a. Science Pod Sunday School), where the students can gain not only experience but also obtain letters of recommendation for college from us, as well.