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

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

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.

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.

5th graders inside the grow dome
matt morrison works with a student
students standing on the edge of a pier
students viewing a model building

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

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!