Sustainability: TNG

The theme of the weekend was the next generation of sustainability leaders. Tom Friedman led off with an excellent op-ed on the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search. Meanwhile, I got a look even farther into the future at the Alcott School Science Fair, here in Concord, MA.

With three kids, I’ve been to my share of elementary school science fairs. They are always fun and the kids seem to have a great time. Over the years the projects have grown in complexity, but I think the parents are doing a good job with their role in the projects. You can usually see their influence, but on the good projects you can see that the students really drove the result.

In addition to the usual array of awesome projects on volcanoes, electric circuits and catapults there was a big increase in sustainability-related projects (pictures below). A few groups, including my daughter’s brownie troop, did nice projects on renewable energy (two wind projects and hyrdo demo!). One student did a cool project on how to clean up oil spills in water, and another tested the air quality in and around the school (their own classroom came out the worst). But my favorite project was a solar-powered scarecrow. He waved his arms and legs when the Sun shined on him!

How do we keep these kids engaged through their K-12 years? What curriculum options do they get to stay excited and engaged in college? Lets keep this going!