5th-Grade Students Present Green Building Ideas for the New Tahoe Expedition Academy Campus

Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-Grade teacher Matt Morrison works with a student on a 3D model
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-Grade teacher Matt Morrison works with a student on a 3D model

Led by 5th-grade teacher Matt Morrison, our semester-long learning expedition titled “Consumption Presumption” took 5th-grade students deep into the world of sustainability, renewable energy and green building practices.

In the final component of this learning expedition, students had the opportunity to present their ideas of sustainability to an architect involved with the new Tahoe Expedition Academy campus in Martis Valley. Students formed 4 expert groups on features that they want to see incorporated into the new campus and presented on passive solar, solar PV, green wall/roofs and grow domes and 3D models that highlighted energy efficiencies, while reducing the impact on the local environment.

Students began this learning expedition by studying sustainability, with an emphasis on the impacts of population growth in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The students visited businesses in Tahoe to learn about some of the best practices they use to operate sustainably. They came to understand that their consumptions have significant long-term effects, not only on the environment but on society as well.

Next, students learned about green technologies and the science behind them. They examined how energy efficiency is intertwined with green architecture. They visited the Grow Dome in Truckee to see an example of what is currently being done in Lake Tahoe.

Finally, students studied alternative energy sources available today along with their benefits and drawbacks. They focused primarily on solar power through a trip to Tesla’s Gigafactory. The students’ brains were lighting up again and again, as the tour of the Gigafactory was amazing. The sustainable energy stance Tesla has taken was inspiring for the students, no doubt. They learned that Tesla’s large scale batteries were going to be the first of many solutions to move the Hawaiian Islands away from burning diesel fuel for electricity by using solar power and battery storage.

Students then compiled and synthesized their understandings to create and present a case on which green technologies should be incorporated into buildings and classrooms on the new TEA campus. Students demonstrated their knowledge by providing reasoned judgments on the greening of the school to parents, school staff and a local architect. In the end, our students were able to explain the importance of environmental sustainability, how we can transition to a more sustainable energy future and what “green building” really means.

Thank you to all of the experts and parents who helped make this learning expedition possible!

Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class visits the North Lake Tahoe Marina to learn about their sustainability efforts.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class visits the North Lake Tahoe Marina to learn about their sustainability efforts.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class visits the Truckee Grown Dome to learn about green energy.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class visits the Truckee Grown Dome to learn about green energy.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class toured the Tesla Gigafactory to learn about alternative energy.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade class toured the Tesla Gigafactory to learn about alternative energy.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade student applies the final touches to a 3D model.
Tahoe Expedition Academy 5th-grade student applies the final touches to a 3D model.

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