August 10, 2020
NY Sun Works Hosts Summer ASPDP Course “Energy, Water and Waste” Online
On July 20, NY Sun Works began the summer session of our 45-hour ASPDP course, “Energy, Water and Waste: Integrating Themes of Sustainability Into Your Classroom” with a cohort of 25 teachers coming from all five boroughs. Taught by Shakira Provasoli of PS 333 Manhattan School for Children, the course on simple sustainability with students offers preK-8th grade teachers the unique opportunity to delve deeper into global environmental issues on a local level. Normally situated within the setting of a sustainable hydroponic greenhouse, this course allows teachers to learn more about current environmental concerns and social justice through a blend of technology, discussion, and hands-on projects. In addition, guest speakers, informative tours, videos and educational games offer a holistic approach to learning about real world environmental problems and how they affect different cultures, especially in terms of environmental racism. This past spring, NYSW introduced an entire new section of readings in the course packet, focused on ways to explore the topics of Energy, Water, and Waste while decentering whiteness and amplifying nonwhite voices and perspectives, with the hope that teachers can further model this approach in their own classrooms.
The course is typically very hands-on, with numerous sustainable materials provided for the creation of worm composting bins, homemade hydroponic systems, solar ovens, and other projects. Since moving the course to a hybrid online/in-person model, we had to get creative to provide teachers with the necessary materials, mailing kits to participants as needed and arranging for pickups where possible. Teachers were able to build their hydroponic systems at home for the first time this year, and we heard feedback after the course from several that their seeds had already sprouted!
Each session of the course, NY Sun Works hosts a variety of guest speakers, trips, and tours, and this summer had maybe our most robust lineup since we began offering the course in 2012. We began the summer session with a workshop by Taylor Morton from WE ACT, introducing teachers to environmental justice concepts through real world case studies in Upper Manhattan and across NYC. Though held mostly online via Zoom, on the second day we were fortunate to be able to host an in-person walking tour of Central Park in partnership with NYC H20, exploring the history of the park and NYC water resources as a whole. Other highlights of the course included:
- Solar One’s Amy Colorado showed teachers how to use a solar mapping tool to look up any address and see its potential for transitioning to solar energy.
- NYCDOE’s Office of Sustainability Zero Waste workshop gave participants new insight into citywide efforts to reduce waste and the important role teachers and students play in that effort.
- Energy Vision’s Kyle Jeremiah and Phil Vos introduced participants to the technology and classroom applications of biomethane.
- Author, Educator and Green Roof advocate Vicki Sando shared her children’s book about Green Roofs in NYC.
- SIMS Recycling Center led the cohort on a virtual tour of their state-of-the-art recyclables processing plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.