Nearly 100 New York City Schoolteachers have been able to continue offering quality STEM education to over 6,000 students through innovative virtual learning resources created by the Green Design Lab (GDL), a program of NYC nonprofit Solar One.
Since the closure of New York City schools on March 16th, teachers have been struggling to adapt their classes and lesson plans to the online environment. Working fifteen-hour days has not been uncommon, and teachers themselves have had to learn new technology and how to deliver STEM instruction, often very hands on and experiential, in the new virtual classroom.
New York City has been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis, and research has clearly shown that the virus is hitting low-income and underserved communities extraordinarily hard. These are the exact communities that Solar One’s education programs are designed to serve. The city has also implemented massive cuts to in-school and after-school education programs for the remainder of this school year and for the 2020-2021 school year as well. Solar One has responded by offering its educational programs remotely and stands ready to offer its programs in the future once in- person delivery is permitted.
At the start of the pandemic, GDL quickly realized it had to shift focus from in-school delivery of hands-on programming to a virtual format that provides critical support for NYC Department of Education (DOE) and Newark public school teachers. GDL’s distance learning programs include video resources, PowerPoint presentations, interactive and real-time mapping activities, assessments and more. All resources were made available for free to NYC and Newark teachers.
In addition, our GDL team recently created a hands-on environmental STEM curriculum to accompany the documentary Point of No Return – the story of the first solar powered flight around the world. The curriculum was created through a partnership with Far West Films and is a separate curriculum that is not part of existing GDL offerings. Title 1 schools can access the film + curriculum for free.
Solar One and the Green Design Lab are committed to adapting and innovating through this crisis and into the economic and social changes that are sure to follow.
Teachers, Instructional Coaches, and Educators from across the DOE participated in the first NYC DOE Climate Summit at the NY Hall of Science in Queens, NY. The Summit was organized by the Office of Sustainability, Solar One, and the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership in an effort to profile the diversity of climate change and how it relates to a variety of school activities and curriculum.
Activities in the two Round Robin sessions included mapping visualizations, climate themed simulations and games, school climate risk assessments, data analysis, health impacts, and climate advocacy.
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Kids ask some pretty hard questions, and sometimes the answers are extremely fascinating, which is why the FiveThirtyEight blog, best known for political polling and sports prognostication, has started this gem of a series called Science Questions from a Toddler. Since the Solar One community is full of both teachers and parents (and teachers who are parents!), we thought this might be of interest for all sorts of reasons.
This week’s topic: Why is water so slippery?
The answer has to do a lot with just how peculiar water molecules actually are.
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The Power of a Plant tells the engaging story of Bronx educator Stephen Ritz and his journey to embody his three Cs- “collisions, connections and co-learnings” through creating the Green Bronx Machine at the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS55 in the South Bronx. Students learn a a variety of curriculum-tied skills while also learning about health, nutrition and the environment.
As he evolves from “Mista” in the 1980s to “Mr. Farmer Steve” in the 21st century, Ritz was inspired by his students’ brightness, creativity and hunger for positive reinforcement; working with special education students in the city’s poorest congressional district meant that positive reinforcement was the last thing his kid were getting. By encouraging each student to “make your thinking visible” helped students to gain the confidence to take on ever-more complex problems. Soon students who had been basically written off as hopeless were taking on beautifying projects in the South Bronx and making the evening news.
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“Reading is fundamental” is a phrase most people are familiar with, and instilling a love of books and reading in their children is some thing that many, if not most, parents strive for. Some books carry messages even more profound, though. Stories are such a compelling way of passing on information that human cultures have stories that have survived thousands of years.
When it comes to environmentalism, stories can play an important role in teaching kids to take care of the animals, plants and other features of a healthy natural environment.
Here are five suggestions from Earth911.com that are sure to please budding environmentalists and eco-parents:
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