The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills

May 24, 2019 by  
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Based in Assam, India, the Akshar Foundation is on a mission to create a new type of sustainable school with its unique education model. The education reform initiative strives to create government schools that are eco-friendly, low-cost and centered in building the most successful environment for children to learn and grow. At the forefront of the school’s positive environmental impact is its recycling model. Instead of tuition, students pay “plastic school fees” by bringing in a minimum of 25 pieces of plastic from their homes or communities each week. Most of these plastic items are non-recyclable and would otherwise be destined for a landfill. Instead, the school staff and students find creative ways to reuse the plastic throughout the campus. While India doesn’t have nearly as much plastic use per capita compared to the United States, the country’s massive population (and the fact that 40 percent of plastic waste is neither collected nor recycled) means that India still produces enough plastic to pollute its oceans and rivers substantially. Luckily, thanks to the country’s recent bans on single-use plastics, along with innovative organizations like the Akshar Foundation, India is beginning to fight back against plastic pollution. Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 Clean plastic waste is collected by the children, who can take items that would otherwise be thrown out from their own homes or collect plastic from around their communities. The material is then separated and cleaned, and the plastic bottles are compacted with other plastic materials, such as plastic bags and packets, to create a “brick.” These “eco-bricks” are used to construct things for the school, everything from toilets to flower planters, to save money and teach the students important vocational skills. The kids learn how to make the bricks, mix the cement and learn the construction skills necessary to build with and reuse recycled materials. In addition to the recycling program and regular curriculum, students are trained in sustainable subjects such as gardening , carpentry and solar tech. The foundation plans to eventually implement irrigation, electronics and lighting into the educational program to supplement the Akshar Landscaping Enterprise as well. Through this program, students are taught to run a profitable business in the landscaping industry and how to beautify public spaces, all while connecting with nature. India accounts for over one-third of the world’s rabies-related deaths, most of which are spread by the large number of stray dogs that live on the country’s streets. The school runs a campus animal shelter in order to bring awareness to the street animal crisis. The students and faculty sheltered, cared for and found homes for 20 dogs in the first year of the program. The children play a part in the medical care for the dogs, as well as caring for them while they are recovering from medical procedures before finding them forever homes. Students are able to learn basic medical skills thanks to this program. Akshar schools enable a “meta-teaching” program so that each student has access to personalized, private tutoring to supplement regular lessons. Each younger child is mentored by an older student who has been trained to tutor, all while being guided by an adult teacher. Related: Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably Children in India are often motivated to quit school out of pressure to earn an income and help their families, resulting in about 47 million students dropping out of school by the 10th grade throughout the country. Akshar has this covered, too. The foundation pays students to work part-time at the school to supplement their learning, with wages based on academic level and teaching skill (meaning students are motivated to improve grades even more). With sponsorship from the Motivation for Excellence Nalanda Project , Akshar students have access to the latest technology to aid in their learning. Student teachers are able to utilize tech such as tablets to add an extra resource to tutoring and mentoring. Younger students are therefore able to familiarize themselves with technology and be taught by a peer who is closer to them in age in addition to an adult teacher. All students take part in the secondary curriculum that combines abstract learning with practical life skills. Some examples include pairing carpentry with mathematics, solar technology with physics, embroidery with economics, teaching with psychology, recycling with ecology and landscaping with biology. Through these inventive school models, the Akshar Foundation hopes to arm its students with skills that will help them in all aspects of life. In addition to gaining experience in the usual subjects of math and science, children learn empathy, responsibility, sustainability and cooperation. The flagship 100-student school, Akshar Forum, serves as a “testing ground” for teaching methods that will eventually spread to more and more schools throughout the country in the coming years. By implementing a fellowship program, government schools will have the chance to learn Akshar’s innovative education design for a period of two years by a trained fellow. Partners for the school include the United Nations, The Education Alliance and the Education Research & Development Foundation. Learn more about the Akshar Foundation by visiting its website . + Akshar Foundation Images via Akshar Foundation

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The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills

Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably

March 7, 2019 by  
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The goals of the Green School are anything but small, yet they are simple: take care of the local community and teach children to be stewards of our planet and leaders of sustainability in the future. The baby of John and Cynthia Hardy, the Green School was inspired after the retired couple viewed the Al Gore film The Inconvenient Truth . With four children of their own, the couple decided to make a difference and, in 2006, broke ground on a new type of school — an educational campus focused on using a holistic teaching approach and a natural canvas as classrooms. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The Green School is located on 20 acres in south central Bali, where the Hardys lived and ran a jewelry store for decades. Using local architects and materials, mainly bamboo , they spent two years constructing an open-air campus, which now houses several hundred students and teachers. In fact, the local area is becoming a community with families building green homes nearby, so their children can walk to school. Those that don’t walk board a bio-bus, fueled by oils collected at the community level and processed into biofuel locally. In addition to eliminating a reliance on fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint, the process of making biofuel produces glycerine as a natural by-product that is then turned into soaps to use on campus. This earth-friendly alternative to traditional palm oil-based soaps reduces the chemicals that would otherwise end up in the water system. Electricity to the school comes from solar panels and a water vortex system, which diverts water from the river that flows through campus and turns it into energy. Waste is an issue at any school, and the designers of the Green School have taken special consideration to create a closed circuit. The composting toilets produce waste that can be amended back into the adjacent soil, feeding the bamboo that grows rampant on the campus. Local Balinese woman use wood-fired stoves instead of gas and traditional cooking techniques to minimize resource usage. Food waste from feeding over 400 people each day is either fed to the school’s pigs or added to the on-site composting pile. Speaking of food, most of the meals provided are grown on campus, giving the students a full understanding of how to plant, nurture, maintain and cook vegetables and rice. The students also help raise the pigs, cows and even the buffalo that roam the campus, enclosed only by organic , natural fencing made from branches and leaves. Mostly tapioca root, the students recognize the fencing is edible for grazing animals as well as themselves. The eco-friendly design continues all the way down to where the footprints go by eliminating any pavement and the petroleum-based chemicals that come with it. Instead, all pathways are paved with hand-laid volcanic rocks. Drinking water comes from a nearby well after traveling through a reverse osmosis system to filter it. Water is used other ways on campus, too, with an aquaponics system that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (raising crops with little to no soil). These systems work in conjunction with each other, so the fish waste feeds the plants while the plants provide much-needed water filtration for the fish. While the goal to be sustainable and local may seem simplistic, the objective of teaching the next generation how to work with students from 25 other countries to solve problems on campus and eventually in the world means the potential for a better future for the entire planet — and that’s no small feat. + Green School Images via Green School Bali

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Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably

Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen

March 7, 2019 by  
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Scientists in Belgium have invented a solar panel that produces hydrogen as a source of fuel to heat homes. Using moisture in the atmosphere, the solar panel converts sunlight into hydrogen gas, producing about 250 liters of gas every day. The team of scientists, lead by Professor Johan Martens, have been developing their hydrogen solar panel for the past 10 years. When they first started, they were only able to produce small quantities of hydrogen gas, but now the gas bubbles are visible the moment they roll the panel out under the sun. Related: California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses “It’s actually a unique combination of physics and chemistry,” Martens explained. “Over an entire year, the panel produces an average of 250 liters per day, which is a world record.” According to CleanTechnica , Martens estimates that 20 solar panels could provide enough energy and electricity to heat up a home and still have some to spare for the following year. The team is still not ready to build the panels for commercial use, but they are getting ready for a trial run at a home in Flanders. If the tests are successful, the researchers are planning to expand their trials to an entire neighborhood. Being an extremely combustible gas, hydrogen can be dangerous if not handled correctly. While the general public may have some concerns about using hydrogen as a heating source, the Belgium-based scientists said it carries the same risks associated with natural gas. The hydrogen produced by the solar panels is stored in an oil tank that is installed near the home. While this technology is certainly promising — and produces zero carbon emissions — the cost of the solar panels, storage tanks and furnace, plus installation, is a big unknown. That said, the upfront cost may be high, but homeowners would pay off the system over time, especially if they no longer relied on city electricity or natural gas. There is no word yet on when the hydrogen solar panels will be available on the market, but the scientists are very optimistic about the upper limits of this technology. + KU Leuven Via CleanTechnica Image via H. Hach

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Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen

5 Sustainable Swaps for a Green School Year

August 28, 2018 by  
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Summer is zooming by and back-to-school season is upon us. … The post 5 Sustainable Swaps for a Green School Year appeared first on Earth911.com.

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New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

September 28, 2017 by  
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A group of concerned mothers started the Anwa primary school in Kibera, Kenya , where extremely disadvantaged children previously lacked access to education. Over time, the school has grown in attendance and needed a new facility that would replace the original 2-story ramshackle building. Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) designed the new main building in close collaboration with the school community as a model for sustainable, context-based design. The architects used sustainably-sourced and certified timber framing, wattle and daub mud-walls on the ground floor and mabati (steel) sheeting on the first floor. This references traditional Kibera construction techniques while reflecting a connection with the local identity. Related: Mobile school “walking classrooms” are helping change lives in Kenya KDI carpentry trainees built the doors and windows using bamboo and timber. All materials used were locally-sourced, while the techniques and building methods were transferable to the local community. The next phase in the project will focus on creating a suitable access to the upper storey and a sustainable landscape for the school grounds. The design firm issued a statement: “At KDI, we co-design and build what we call Productive Public Spaces (PPS) – formerly underutilized, unsafe or polluted sites that are transformed into active, attractive community hubs.” + Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)

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New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

This high school in California embodies sustainability at every possible level

June 28, 2017 by  
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The new Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at Bishop O’Dowd high school in California is one of the greenest classrooms we’ve ever seen. Siegel & Strain Architects designed the building to support sustainability at every level while providing a flexible space for learning. It paid off – the classroom has achieved both Zero Net Energy and LEED Platinum certification. The new facility is located at Bishop O’Dowd, a college preparatory high school in the Oakland Hills in California . Its goal is to prepare students for careers in renewable energy, resource management and environmental engineering and inspire them to become innovators in tackling environmental challenges. Related: Sprout Space is an Award-Winning Prefab Modular Classroom by Perkins + Will Passive design strategies minimize the building’s energy use. A deep overhang and low-emissivity dual glazing protect south-facing clerestory windows from unwanted solar gain , while a large porch wraps around the building and shades its west side. Related: Project FROG’s Zero Energy Modular Classrooms Rainwater is collected in a series of large cisterns for use in toilets and irrigation, while low-flow water fixtures reduce the use of potable water by 60% over USGCB-estimated baseline water usage for a building of similar type and size. In order to create a healthy environment, the architects used natural, non-toxic, renewable, recycled and environmentally friendly building materials. + Bishop O’Dowd High School + Siegel & Strain Architects Photos by David Wakely

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BOARD designs a column-free lightweight bridge extension for a school in Germany

August 24, 2015 by  
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Wood and metal sandwich panels clad PAN Architects’ striking Marseille Architecture School extension

August 3, 2015 by  
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Wood and metal sandwich panels clad PAN Architects’ striking Marseille Architecture School extension

Plug n Play is a modular classroom that can be modified to suit local conditions

May 26, 2015 by  
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Chakour Studios is aiming to provide creative and comfortable spaces for children where they can learn and play using modular design that offers flexibility and ease. Depending on where the pod is used, the user can plug in various materials based on local functional requirements, climate, cost and regional availability.  Called Plug n Play, the very first building will be situated within the grounds of Tsast Altai school in the west of Mongolia, where the module will be designed to take advantage of local conditions and materials. Once completed, the space will host 100 pupils in an environmentally-friendly space that can withstand the extreme Mongolian climate. Read the rest of Plug n Play is a modular classroom that can be modified to suit local conditions Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chaukor Studio , Chaukor studio school , Green Building , green school , local materials , modular building , modular school , modular structure , plug n play school , plug n play structure , prefab building , Solar Power , Sustainable Building , Sustainable Materials , sustainable school , thermal power

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Nueva School in California explores architecture’s role in learning

March 23, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Nueva School in California explores architecture’s role in learning Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: green school , integrated learning , Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects , LEED certificate , leed platinum architecture , Leed Platinum certification , LEED schools , NUEVA School , Nueva school California , San Francisco architects

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