Last spring Grades 7 and 8 participated in Climate Action Day, dedicated to applying concepts learned in math and science classes to environmental issues within the larger New York community. Led by Science Department Chair Dr. Shayri Greenwood and Math Teacher Rachelle Scolari, the program motivates middle schoolers to apply their learnings in tangible ways to become better informed climate activists.
Conner Allen ‘08, former Friends science teacher, activist, and author, kicked off the day with a keynote presentation centered around global warming and the effects of climate change, such as species endangerment, coastal flooding, and increasingly powerful weather patterns. She explained how we have “shaped our society around coal” and delved into fossil fuel projects, their funding, and influence within government. Conner also spoke to climate anxiety, which affects 84 percent of those between the ages of 16-25, juxtaposing it as a springboard to inspire our youth to find solutions to climate change.
Middle Schoolers then broke out into groups to tackle various hands-on projects. Some Grade 7 science students worked in groups to reimagine the Friends Annex as a solar passive building. After a deep dive into architectural design and solar emission qualities in class, they used the day to build 3D models of the Annex with solar panels and increased shading, reimagining everyday materials with the knowledge they have learned in math, science and art. “This day is one in which students not only think about climate justice, but also reimagine how our world could be using our resources better,” Dr. Greenwood explains.
Across the street in Stuyvesant Square Park, other groups of seventh graders completed scale drawings and identified, measured, and examined the quality of the park’s trees. This data will be used to calculate how much carbon is being stored in the park, connecting to the carbon cycle which was studied in science class. In the future, this important information will be presented to the Stuyvesant Square Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA)
and the broader community to show the true value of our public parks beyond their beauty.
Back in the classroom, eighth graders were analyzing the cost of electric versus gas vehicles in New York state. Students researched different cars and used their knowledge of systems of equations to determine the cost effectiveness of electric cars.
Rachelle explains, “I love this project because we are able to apply math and science education to partnerships in our community and how we can improve the School’s carbon footprint.”
Over the summer, Dr. Greenwood and Rachelle teamed up with science teacher Elizabeth Lipshutz to integrate the project more fully into the Middle School curriculum. For the 2023-2024 academic year, teachers hope to bridge this interdisciplinary project into the arts and technology, continuing to work alongside more teachers, alumni, faculty, staff, and activists in our community.