Baldwin Middle School Goes Green

In the final days of school before the Winter Break, Middle School homerooms banded together to compete against one another in a series of events to determine who was the “greenest” of them all. This environmentally friendly project provided students with an opportunity to use their collaborative problem-solving skills to design and construct solutions to relevant and authentic problems. The students were challenged to build a geodesic dome and explore the energy efficiency of the structure, build functional electric vehicles using various power sources, design and construct a wind turbine to generate the greatest amount of energy and filter and purify a water sample, making it drinkable by humans.
MS DREAM Lab® Coordinator Addison Lilholt and Instructional Coach, Math and DREAM Lab Teacher Jason Potten developed Baldwin's fifth all-MS experiential learning experience, "Baldwin MS Goes Green." Through this learning experience, students had the opportunity to apply and reinforce content knowledge within a framework of the design and problem-solving process. Additionally, students raised their own level of environmental awareness, as well as that of our community.
Design challenges included:
  • Greenhouse Design — We need to build a better structure
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a green home pays attention to energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, the use of sustainable or recycled products, and measures to protect indoor air quality. One such way to achieve these results is to change the physical shape of our homes. Originally invented in the 1950s, the geodesic dome holds great potential in terms of energy efficiency. The challenge was to build a geodesic dome large enough for each design squad to fit into.
  • Green Transportation — Rethink Movement
Although electric and hybrid vehicles have been on the rise as technology has increased, the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by transportation continues to be on the rise, too. The challenge was to build functional electric vehicles using various power sources that then competed in a race against other design squads.
  • Green Energy — Blowin’ in the Wind
Hailed as one of the cleanest forms of alternative energy, wind power currently provides less than 6% of our nation’s energy. The challenge was to design and construct a wind turbine that generated the greatest amount of energy.
  • Green Water — What would you drink?
Enacted over 30 years ago, the Safe Drinking Water Act aims to protect public health by regulating the quality of our water supply. Despite this, several thousand people are sickened worldwide by contaminated drinking water each year. The challenge was to filter and purify a water sample so it could be drinkable by humans.
In addition to these four tasks, members of each design squad took on the challenge of shooting, editing and producing a short documentary that was shared with the entire Middle School as part of the culmination activity where design squads received “green badges” for a variety of accomplishments, including the most successful “Green Homeroom.”