It’s arguably crucial for schools and colleges to do all they can to encourage future green builders; this means educating students about how to use sustainable technologies and alternative energy sources, while also conducting practical research. What, then, are schools currently focusing on, and what kinds of subjects are available? Moreover, what enterprise and extra-curricular projects are being tested, and what are the recurring challenges for cultivating the next generation of green builders?
Current School Surveys
An infrastructure for green tech and construction is already a common feature in UK and US universities, from the Green Engineering Academy to Eco-Skills UK trusts; particularly successful programs include the University of East Anglia’s BSc in Environmental Geography, with Virginia-Tech University in the United States also providing specialist courses that prepare engineers.
Within secondary schools, schemes are also in place for teachers to educate students about how environmental decisions impact on buildings and projects. Resources provided by the Times Educational Supplement point to encouraging students to look at their own classrooms for possible solutions to energy loss, while allowing children to learn more about solar power and green roofs. In the United States, projects that focus on using green roofs, natural lighting, and water management systems are common in major cities, with the New York public school system being particularly impressive in its approach.
For students that want to learn more about their environment, and how they can contribute to future building projects, AQA offer a GCSE in Environmental Science. Specs for the subject, which can be taken in addition to GCSE Science, includes learning about human population changes, energy resources, and global climate change; a major part of the GCSE involves fieldwork and investigative skills. An A Level in Environmental Science is also available, which develops the modules of the GCSE, and also looks at the Living Environment and Biological Resources.
There are also a number of enterprise projects available to students in the United States and the United Kingdom; these include ‘Engineer Games’ in the US that provide extra-curricular activities for students. In the UK, recent projects include a Siemens and Smallpiece Trust funded Wind Turbine Challenge, which encourages students to complete a large scale problem solving challenge that tests their ability to use renewable materials and energy sources.
However, there are still challenges involved in building a new generation of eco conscious engineers and developers. Primarily, there are debates over whether subjects like Environmental Science should just be an option, or whether they should be built more clearly into the rest of a school’s curriculum. Moreover, changes to the UK curriculum, and the switch to EBaccs, could mean that sustainability and fieldwork based subjects could be marginalised by core science exams and coursework.
Article by Rob James. Rob James believes to build a greener future we need to invest in the younger generation. Rob likes to blog about varied subject in the green arena, including education, computers, and green cars.