Hands-On Green Learning In Store For Union County Students

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SCOTCH PLAINS – 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.”

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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.

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.”

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.


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