Smith Engineers Team with Campus School for Teaching, Practicing Sustainability
By Ayesha Khan '16
The Smith College Campus School, like its host college, aims to give its students the knowledge and tools to be environmentally literate—to become responsible stewards of a sustainable society.
||Engineers for a Sustainable World created blueprints for their proposed designs of the Campus School raised gardens and irrigation systems.
Toward that end, the Campus School began a collaboration with the student group Engineers for a Sustainable World late last spring to embark on two sustainability projects, one pertaining to the Campus School’s physical structure, the other to its curriculum.
For the first project, Smith student engineers will work with teachers and the elementary students in designing and building an irrigation system for 14 new raised-bed gardens on the campus. Teachers will be assigned to maintain a bed garden with their students.
ESW members are proposing several irrigation system designs using rainwater runoff collected from nearby Morgan Hall, which houses faculty offices for the Department of Education and Child Study.
The Smith engineers will soon present their bed garden irrigation proposals to the young students, followed by a lesson describing the engineering design strategies and problem-solving in arriving at the respective designs. Classes will then decide which irrigation design they will use for the gardens.
“This is the perfect educational tool for elementary students to learn about the engineering process,” noted Brittany Bennet, project manager for ESW.
The second collaboration partners ESW members and Campus School teachers to develop activities and lesson plans around engineering and sustainability to be integrated with the school’s kindergarten-through-sixth-grade curriculum.
Other engineering and sustainability projects may be added to the Campus School classroom agendas. For example, one first-grade class, fascinated with birdhouses, could apply an engineering perspective to their examination of the structures’ designs, and create designs that might attract more birds and detract squirrels.
“Mentoring young students is one of the most sure ways of getting them to pursue STEM fields,” said Bennett. “Getting this idea of STEM careers out early on is absolutely vital.”
The Campus School collaboration with Smith student engineers is a logical step in the school’s ongoing efforts to integrate sustainability into the curriculum, led by a faculty Sustainability Committee for nearly nine years.
“We’re always looking for ways to connect with the greater college community,” said Roberta Murphy, who teaches second grade. “ESW students can be engineering mentors in the classroom.”
“These projects are providing us with a ‘green’ master plan for the school,” she added.