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.”
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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