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HANDS-ON GREEN LEARNING IN STORE FOR UNION COUNTY STUDENTS
Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, second from right, watches as teachers Stephanie Aurilia-Miller of the Clark School District (left), Corrin Herbst of Mountainside School District (center), and Charlie Abruzzo of Garwood School District (right) make a wind turbine at the Green Boot Camp last month at the Union County Vocational Technical Schools campus in Scotch Plains. (Photo by Michael S. Barr Photography)
Scotch Plains, NJ – Middle school students throughout Union County may learn about sustainability this fall by building their own wind turbines and cooking with solar energy. The hands-on activities took place during a “Green Boot Camp” for middle school teachers. The camp was developed through a partnership between Honeywell and Union County Vocational-Technical Schools, to help middle school teachers learn about the latest green education tools.
“Students light up when they do hands-on activities, especially ones that are relevant to their daily lives,” said Lisa Corona, a science teacher in Linden who attended the Boot Camp. “These lessons will help them build awareness.”
Each of the county’s 21 school districts was invited to send one educator to the weeklong camp, which took place at the Vo-Tech Schools Campus in Scotch Plains. The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and teachers from 18 middle schools attended.
“We need to take every opportunity to prepare our students for a sustainable future,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “Thanks to Honeywell’s sustainability expertise and support, our educators are learning how to teach about energy and clean technologies to children in our communities
Workforce development is one of Union County’s core responsibilities, including Vo-Tech high schools that prepare students for careers. Because many green careers require a strong background in science and technology, preparing middle school students for a more challenging high school curriculum is a logical next step.
“With the tools they’ve gained at the Green Boot Camp, middle school educators can help their students learn to work through a process and devise new ways of doing things,” said Dr. Thomas J. Bistocchi, Superintendent of the Union County Vo-Tech Schools. “This 21st-century approach to learning will play a vital role in preparing Union County students for new challenges.”
The Honeywell sponsorship supported curriculum development, programming, and course materials including the Honeywell Renewable Energy Scorecard, the Honeywell Greenhouse Gas Inventory Calculation Workshop, and Honeywell’s energy retrofit checklist.
“Honeywell has a long history of enabling and encouraging sustainable practices,” said John Isherwood, a market manager with Honeywell. “With more than 50 percent of our portfolio dedicated to energy efficiency, Green Boot Camp was an ideal opportunity for Honeywell to work with educators in engaging more students in science, technology and sustainability concepts to pave the way for a greener future.”
Two educators from the Vo-Tech’s Academy of Information Technology, Paul Savage and Jennifer Puglia, designed the curriculum and emphasized hands-on activities that challenge students to learn by doing. In addition to constructing green devices, educators practiced the latest interactive computer tools and performed a wide variety of hands-on exercises from tracking energy use and waste disposal to making public service announcements and Podcasts. Guest speakers and lectures rounded out the program.