By Shan Gordon
Our schools constantly test our students to measure their achievement. But if we want to improve student achievement, it is time for students to test their schools.
Are classrooms too hot or too cold? Are pest and mold problems causing asthma attacks and absences? Are students getting enough exercise and water? Do students need glasses to read the board and their textbooks? Does poor bus service cause students to be late or miss school? Are lunches nutritious and palatable? Why are so many students still failing to succeed in math and science?
Challenging students to investigate and improve their health and learning engages them in a meaningful, real world scientific inquiry. It is a perfect fit for STEM, Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core curriculum and gives students hands on training for careers in health, building, teaching, and social science. Students see how they can use science and innovation to improve their lives.
Experiment You engages students as scientists and problem solvers in a very real and important experiment: how can we use our learning and innovation to improve our lives? As a STEM based inquiry, students use surveys, observations, and tools to benchmark their health and the health and learning conditions at their school.
Students learn to create and use surveys to gain information on student health and school conditions. How many students have missed school because of asthma related issues? What classrooms are too hot or cold? Where have students seen mold, mice or cockroaches? Are students getting enough healthy foods, sleep and exercise?
Tools for Schools
Using the Tools for Schools walkthrough assessment from EPA, students discover and report asthma triggers at their schools.
Operations Report Card
Using the Operations report card protocol from the Collaboration for High Performing Schools (CHPS) students collect and analyze data on the temperature, humidity, air quality, lighting and acoustics.
Energy Star Portfolio Manager
Using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, students can benchmark the carbon footprint of their school and compare the energy use of their school to similar schools in their area. Students identify ways to eliminate energy waste at their school.
Solving for …us
After collecting this data, students are challenged to create improvements in each of these areas. Finding ways to improve their health and the conditions at their school engages students in real world problem solving at ground level. Can cross ventilation reduce excessive heat in classrooms or does the air conditioning need to be fixed? Why are the outdoor security lights on in the daytime? Is there an easy way to screen students for vision problems? Experiment You offers students learning, control and responsibility.
Every school is a laboratory and every student is an experiment. The question is whether our students will remain lab rats running a maze, or whether they become scientists and innovators, using their learning to improve their conditions and outcomes. This is rich learning that grows the confidence and competence of our students. It is time.