Back to school special: Big thanks to our green tech kids

I have no children so I really can't appreciate the end of August, when the parents I know count down the hours until their offspring heads back to the classroom. But I do remember mourning the bittersweet end of summer in the northeast, when crickets chirp of a summer evening and the air-conditioners can be relegated to midday use.

I have no children so I really can't appreciate the end of August, when the parents I know count down the hours until their offspring heads back to the classroom. But I do remember mourning the bittersweet end of summer in the northeast, when crickets chirp of a summer evening and the air-conditioners can be relegated to midday use.

These days, kids have way more meaningful things to do with their summer days than become chlorinated in the pool. Heck, many budding environmental activists probably would be in the face of the lifeguard, demanding to know why a saltwater system wasn't been used instead of nasty chlorine. There are plenty of green educational programs cropping up around the country, as alternatives to traditional summer camps. A recent example: more than 265 teenagers from 45 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces spent a chunk of their August competing in the 2008 Canon Envirothon. Microsoft, Intel and IBM have also ponied up money for green educational causes.

As part of the annual Canon Envirothon competition, five-member teams are tested in their knowledge of environmental issues such as land and soil use, aquatic ecology, forestry and current issues. A piece of the puzzle is the use of technology to further research in these fields. The prize this year was $125,000 in scholarships and Canon technology. Aside from Canon, participants in the competition included the National Association of Conservation Districts, the United States Department of Agriculture and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The winners this year hail from Charter School of Wilmington in Wilmington, Delaware, which snagged $25,000 in Canon scholarships plus Canon video equipment for use in ongoing science education projects. The rest of the money went to the other top 10 teams.

The next competition will be held at the University of North Carolina in Asheville, N.C., from Aug. 2 to Aug. 9, 2009.

The other program I want to mention here is something from the Alliance to Save Energy called the Green Schools Program, which will launch in Washington, D.C., at around 15 area schools this fall. The local program, called Saving Energy in DC Schools, will include something called the Student Energy Auditor Training initiative. This will teach students in high school and middle school to perform energy audits on their homes. Here's some information about what some Green Schools kids have already achieved.

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