Empowering high school students to create a Solar Garden
Ever since she first volunteered at Tiburon, CA’s Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary as a Teacher Naturalist, Emily Sprowls has seen the astounding results for students when education and action-oriented conservation operate in unison. This was made even more clear to her as an Agroforestry Extenionist for the Peace Corps Panama, Environmental Educator for the Urban Resources Initiative (among other environment-based teaching positions), and finally in her roles as science teacher and sophomore advisor at Bloomington’s Harmony School, an educational institute where approximately 80% of the students receive some form of tuition assistance.
For Emily’s TogetherGreen fellowship, she collaborated with students from elementary through high school at the Harmony Solar School. The students designed and built a solar sculpture and native habitats on the Harmony School grounds. Students in high school ecology courses assessed the native and invasive species throughout the schoolyard, while students in a high school physics course audited the school’s energy use. Art students learned to weld and designed a sculptural metal frame for the photovoltaic panels. Elementary and middle students planted native trees and shrubs. Students will continue to monitor the use of the solar electricity generated by the panels, as well as monitor the native species planted into the schoolyard habitat.
Emily is currently working to dovetail the work Harmony School students did on habitat assessment with another TogetherGreen grant project at the neighboring woods of Indiana University. Students in future classes will work to monitor the output of the solar system and energy use trends in the school.